The Best Places in Utah for Job Seekers

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Job seekers should head to Utah. The Beehive State has the seventh-lowest state unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent in August, compared to the national average of 7.3 percent. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Utah.

We found the best places for job seekers in the state by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed population growth from 2009 to 2012 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
  2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably? We measured a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.
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The Best Places in Utah for Job Seekers

1.    Syracuse

Located 13 miles southwest of Ogden, Syracuse is situated between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains. The city is known as the Gateway to Antelope Island, a popular state park known for its natural beauty and fun summer activities. Syracuse saw 10.3 percent population growth between 2009 and 2012, and its unemployment rate is a low 4.3 percent. Hill Air Force Base is located just outside Syracuse and is the top employer in the city. Other principal employers include Davis School District, Lifetime Products and Davis Hospital & Medical Center. Davis County’s Community & Economic Development Office emphasizes job growth by developing and expanding businesses and entrepreneurship through their Visions and Values strategy.

2.    Kaysville

Hector Caleb Haight founded Kaysville in 1847, and, in 1868, it was the first city in Davis County to be incorporated. Kaysville is located 16 miles south of Ogden, near Farmington Bay. The city saw a 7.0 percent population growth between 2009 and 2012, and its households earn a median income of $82,292.

Davis Applied Technology College is home to the Northfront Business Resource Center, which brings together academic and entrepreneurial talent in the northern Utah. The Center aims to discover new and innovative ways for small businesses to expand through programs such as the Service Corp of Retired Executives, which connects retired executives and small business owners and managers for free mentoring and counseling. Kaysville is also home to a branch of the Utah Small Business Development Center, which provides consulting and training for small businesses and their employees.

3.    Spanish Fork

Spanish Fork is located in Happy Valley, the Provo-Orem metropolitan area south of Salt Lake City, and the city provides plenty of recreational activities for its residents, with 10 tennis courts, 14 soccer fields and 9 baseball diamonds. Between 2009 and 2012, the city saw a 10.0 percent population growth, the second highest on our list. Top employers in Spanish Fork include Mountain Country Foods, Nature’s Sunshine and Sapa Extrusions, and the diverse economy supports plenty of jobs as well. Spanish Fork is also home to the Spanish Fork Wind Farm, the first commercial-scale operating wind farm in Utah.

4.    Lehi

Situated in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area, Lehi is located 12 miles north of Provo and is Utah’s sixth oldest town. Every summer, Lehi hosts the world-famous Lehi Roundup Rodeo, which boasts 5k and 10k runs, barbeques and a rodeo that attracts professional cowboys from around the world. Lehi’s households earn a median income of $70,383, and it has an unemployment rate of only 4.4 percent. Major employers in Lehi include IM Flash Technologies, XanGo, Cabela’s and Thanksgiving Point, a popular tourism spot. The city also gives Family-Friendly Business Awards to companies that promote work-life balance for their employees.

5.    West Jordan

Located approximately 13 miles south of Salt Lake City, West Jordan is the fourth-largest city in Utah. West Jordan has plenty of attractions for its residents, from the annual Western Stampede Rodeo every July 4th to the Schorr Art Gallery, which hosts works from local artists right in City Hall. The city saw 3.2 percent population growth between 2009 and 2012, and households earn a median income of $66,899. Principal employers include Jordan School District, Jordan Valley Medical Center and Fairchild Semiconductor.

West Jordan is home to Salt Lake Community College’s Jordan Campus, which has a Community Writing Center to help students and local community members polish their professional writing skills, including resume writing. They provide free one-on-one coaching, both in-person and online, as well as a slew of online resources. The SLCC Writing Center just recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2011 and is still going strong.

6.    South Jordan

South Jordan lies along West Jordan’s southern border, around 16 miles south of Salt Lake City. The city’s median household income is $89,383 while its unemployment rate is only 4.2 percent. South Jordan’s top employers include Jordan School District, Merit Medical Systems and Ultradent Products. Residents enjoy plenty of natural beauty within city limits because the city teamed up with local non-profits and other private groups to preserve the Jordan River ecosystem through the South Jordan Riverway Wildlife Enhancement project.

The nearby city of Sandy has a branch of Salt Lake Community College that is home to the Miller Business Innovation Center, which provides small business owners and their employees with training programs and other resources. In 2012, the college partnered with Development Dimensions International (DDI) to offer business classes to local companies.

7.    Riverton

Riverton is conveniently located six miles south of West Jordan in southwestern Salt Lake Valley. The city’s households earn a median income of $80,939, and the unemployment rate is a low 4.1 percent. Riverton’s largest employers include Jordan School District, Riverton Hospital and Stampin’ Up. The Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce has special resources to help businesswomen and female entrepreneurs promote and expand their businesses.

8.    Layton

Located on the banks of Farmington Bay, Layton is part of the Ogden metropolitan area north of Salt Lake City. Layton saw 2.8 percent population growth between 2009 and 2012, and the city’s unemployment rate is a low 4.6 percent. Layton is home to many institutions of higher education. Weber State University, Davis welcomes nontraditional students to finish their education with scholarships, resources and childcare, available in their Nontraditional Student Center. Eagle Gate College’s Career Services specializes in helping students find employment by hosting career fairs, partnering with communities and offering career services to all students and alumni.

9.    Springville

Approximately six miles south of Provo, Springville is an up-and-coming city in Utah County, with 3.3 percent population growth between 2009 and 2012. The city has a low unemployment rate of 4.4 percent while households earn a median income of $58,797. Springville is a young, educated city – more than 43.3 of the population have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median age in Springville is only 26.1. Top employers in the city include Nestle USA, Neways International and Flowserve Corporation. The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce has lead initiatives for small businesses and their employees, such as hosting conferences, networking events and community development.

10. Taylorsville

Taylorsville is located in the heart of Salt Lake Valley, four miles north of West Jordan and nine miles south of Salt Lake City. The city is very young; it was recently incorporated in 1996 due to citizens’ grassroots efforts. The city has a low unemployment rate of just 4.5 percent, and principal employers in Taylorsville include American Express, Salt Lake Community College and Convergys. The Economic Development Corporation of Utah, based in nearby Salt Lake City, connects state and local government with private institutions to help small businesses grow and expand.

 

Rank City Nearest Big City Population Change (2009 to 2012) Median Household Income (2011) Median Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Syracuse Ogden 10.3% $84,604 $1,672 4.3% 87.2
2 Kaysville Ogden 7.0% $82,292 $1,164 4.0% 82.2
3 Spanish Fork Provo 10.0% $60,142 $1,407 4.4% 76.9
4 Lehi Orem 4.3% $70,383 $1,403 4.4% 73.7
5 West Jordan 3.2% $66,899 $1,297 4.1% 72.5
6 South Jordan Salt Lake City, West Jordan 2.2% $89,383 $1,478 4.2% 70.1
7 Riverton City Salt Lake City, West Jordan -0.1% $80,939 $1,715 4.1% 66.8
8 Layton Ogden 2.8% $64,705 $1,526 4.6% 65.3
9 Springville Provo 3.3% $58,797 $1,377 4.4% 64.8
10 Taylorsville Salt Lake City, West Jordan 1.9% $57,587 $1,491 4.5% 63.0

 

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2012 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2012 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

30 communities designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 25,000 were considered.

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