Best Cities for Millennial Job seekers in Arizona

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Best Cities for Millennial Job Seekers in Arizona

Forget Silicon Valley. Arizona’s “Silicon Desert” is holding its own with companies such as Intel, Honeywell and Go Daddy, as well as many early-stage startups.

Jobs at tech companies, plus affordable rents and a rich culture make Arizona — and especially the Phoenix area — an attractive place for millennials looking for a place to live and work, according to a new NerdWallet analysis.

Despite taking a direct hit during the Great Recession, Arizona added more than 63,000 jobs in 2014, with the biggest gains in leisure and hospitality, education, health services and professional and business services.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers for 44 cities in the state with populations over 17,000 to determine the best places for millennials who are looking for a job. We ranked these cities based on job availability, millennial growth and affordability. Even though there’s no official definition for the term “millennial,” for the purposes of our calculations, we counted people ages 20-34 as part of this group.

Here’s a closer look at the factors we used in our analysis:

  1. Are there jobs in the area? We looked at the unemployment rate in 2013 and the average worker payroll salary in 2012, using the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures. We determined the average worker’s salary with the census bureau’s payroll by ZIP code. Lower unemployment rates and higher payroll salaries scored positively.
  2. Can you afford to rent near work? Using census data, we measured a city’s median rent, including utilities, to determine if an area has reasonable rent costs. Lower costs resulted in a positive score for a city.
  3. Do other millennials live there? We determined that millennials are workers ages 18-33, which is the definition used in a March 2014 Pew Research Center report. We used two of the census bureau’s brackets, ages 20-24 and 25-34, to create a millennial group for our analysis. From this, we found the percentage of millennials in a city’s 2013 population and the growth of millennial residents from 2010 to 2013. High percentages received positive scores.

Our analysis revealed these trends:

Maricopa County is No. 1. Four of our top five cities for millennials — Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix — are located in the state’s most populous county.

Growth is high in smaller cities. The millennial populations in Douglas, Sahuarita and Prescott all grew over 10% from 2010 to 2013.

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Best cities for millennial job seekers in Arizona

1. Chandler

This Phoenix suburb tops our list because of its high wages and the high-profile companies located here. Chandler, part of Arizona’s Silicon Desert, is a hub for companies such as Intel, which employs over 10,000 people. Other large employers include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, ebay, PayPal and Verizon Wireless. In downtown Chandler, millennials can choose from a range of unique restaurants, shops and galleries, as well as a weekly farmers market and monthly art walk. And before it gets too hot, Chandler’s residents can enjoy some of the 330 days of sunshine in the area’s 60 parks, which include playgrounds, pools, picnic areas, trails and more.

2. Scottsdale

Near Phoenix, in Maricopa County, affluent Scottsdale is known as a destination for shopping, nightlife, restaurants and hotels. Tourism is a major driver of the city’s economy, in addition to health care, biotechnology and financial services. The city’s top employers include Scottsdale Healthcare Corporation, General Dynamics C4 Systems, Vanguard and the Mayo Clinic. The culture of the southwest is on display at Scottsdale’s western-style boutiques and saloons in Old Town. The average worker in Scottsdale earns $52,131 a year, but they also pay a median of $1,122 a month for rent, the second highest on our list.

3. Tempe

Home to Arizona State University, one of the largest public universities in the nation, it’s no mystery why Tempe has the highest percentage of millennials in our top 10 cities. In addition to the university and Maricopa Community Colleges, the city’s biggest employers include the Salt River Project, Safeway, Wells Fargo, Motorola, Honeywell, Chase Manhattan and US Airways. Downtown Tempe is a growing destination for shopping, restaurants and nightlife, while Tempe Town Lake provides scenic views and opportunities for biking, walking and picnicking.

4. Phoenix

The state’s capital and largest city, Phoenix has a diverse array of activities — from fine arts, museums, shopping and nightlife to hiking and Major League Baseball spring training games. The city’s range of job opportunities include positions working for the state government, Wal-Mart, Banner Health, Wells Fargo, Arizona State University, Intel and Honeywell. However, the unemployment rate is 7.0%, which is higher than the national average. Rent in Phoenix — at a median of $870 a month — is affordable compared with some of the state’s other large cities.

5. Flagstaff

Nature-loving millennials will fall in love with Flagstaff for its mountain views and proximity to Coconino National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park. In the evening, downtown Flagstaff is just as vibrant with craft breweries, unique restaurants and live entertainment venues. Tourism, government, science and technology drive Flagstaff’s economy. The city’s biggest employers include Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff Medical Center and W.L Gore & Associates, which developed the waterproof Gore-Tex fabric.

6. Douglas

On the Arizona-Mexico border and steeped in the history of the southwest and Mexico, Douglas is affordable and charming. The city has a low unemployment rate and the lowest median rent compared with other cities in our top 10. Millennials here will find company in the city that saw the population of its younger residents grow over 18% from 2010 to 2013. Tourists can cross from Douglas to Aqua Prieta, Mexico, for unique shopping and authentic cuisine.

7. Tucson

Tucson offers affordable rents and diverse cultural activities, including a booming arts scene — with a ballet company, theater, symphony orchestra, opera company and more than 35 art galleries downtown. Millennials are about a quarter of the population in the city that’s home to the University of Arizona. Top employers include Raytheon Missile Systems and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, but Tucson still has the highest unemployment rate of our top 10 cities.

8. Sierra Vista

In south Arizona near the Mexico border, Sierra Vista offers job opportunities, scenery and culture. In line with the city’s rich military history, the biggest employer is the Army’s Fort Huachuca. The city’s strong tourism industry attracts bird-watchers, hikers and cyclists. The Sierra Vista area has many options for people who appreciate the outdoors — from Ramsey Canyon Preserve and Brown’s Canyon Trail to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Sierra Vista also is at the heart of Arizona’s wine country.

9. Sahuarita

For millennials who want to be close to a metropolis and also benefit from a low unemployment rate, Sahuarita, a south Tucson suburb, is a place to be. In this quickly growing city, the millennial population has kept pace, with a nearly 25% increase from 2010 to 2013. The economy is fueled by two of the town’s largest employers, Freeport-McMoRan and Asarco — companies that mine copper and gold. Residents here will enjoy beautiful mountain views and Sahuarita Lake’s trail. However, at $1,193 a month, Sahuarita has the highest median rent of our top 10.

10. Prescott

With its motto “Welcome to Everybody’s Hometown,” Prescott is a small place with big charm, affordable rent and low unemployment. Elevated 5,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the Prescott National Forest, the area offers endless opportunities for climbing, hiking, biking and wildlife watching. Tourism helps drive the local economy, and big employers include the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System, Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Ruger, the firearms manufacturer.

Check out this interactive map of our top 10 cities for millennial job seekers in Arizona. Click on a marker to see the city’s overall score.

Top 20 best cities for millennial job seekers in Arizona

 

City Unemployment rate
in 2013
Average worker payroll
in 2012
Millennial population
in 2013
Percent of millennials
in 2013
Millennial growth
2010-2013
Median rent
in 2013
Overall score
1 Chandler 5.6% $53,923 51,858 21.51% 3.99% $1,079 67.23
2 Scottsdale 4.1% $52,131 37,825 17.09% 2.01% $1,122 66.21
3 Tempe 6.6% $47,492 60,280 36.59% 5.03% $925 65.84
4 Phoenix 7.0% $47,896 341,020 23.14% 0.29% $870 60.65
5 Flagstaff 5.7% $37,799 22,490 33.78% 5.60% $1,035 52.78
6 Douglas 3.9% $22,898 5,033 29.11% 18.31% $539 51.76
7 Tucson 7.5% $37,047 133,711 25.55% 2.47% $742 50.09
8 Sierra Vista 4.2% $32,075 10,650 23.57% 8.46% $931 49.12
9 Sahuarita 2.6% $32,722 4,524 17.62% 24.77% $1,193 49.12
10 Prescott 4.7% $32,232 5,791 14.48% 11.56% $773 48.88
11 Mesa 6.1% $36,353 97,289 21.76% -0.94% $867 48.16
12 Rio Rico 7.0% $37,375 3,342 17.47% -3.74% $742 47.74
13 Glendale 8.0% $38,359 50,609 22.00% -1.91% $854 45.52
14 Marana 4.8% $39,033 6,239 17.41% 4.82% $1,262 45.28
15 Prescott Valley 6.2% $30,565 7,857 20.16% 22.73% $866 44.59
16 Kingman 6.3% $31,970 5,004 17.80% 3.41% $812 42.81
17 Gilbert 4.8% $36,482 41,925 19.44% 3.44% $1,269 42.43
18 Yuma 6.8% $30,739 22,614 24.45% 7.40% $877 41.54
19 Buckeye 5.3% $31,448 12,878 24.47% 9.09% $1,132 40.94
20 Lake Havasu City 5.1% $28,856 6,820 12.93% 11.97% $866 40.86

 

Methodology

The overall score for each place was derived from the following sources:

  1. Millennials as a percentage of the population is 10% of the overall score. The population figures — ages 20-24 and ages 25-34 — are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, data set DP05.
  2. The millennial population growth from 2010 to 2013 makes up 10% of the overall score. The figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP05.
  3. The unemployment rate by city is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP03. It is 20% of the overall score.
  4. Average worker payroll is 40% of the overall score. The figures are calculated based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s ZIP Code Business Statistics, data set CB1200CZ11. Figures from multiple ZIP codes within a city were combined and averaged.
  5. Median gross rent is 20% of the score. The figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP04.

NerdWallet analyzed 44 places with populations over 17,000. Our final list included cities, towns and census-designated places, but we left out three age-restricted communities and seven places that didn’t have payroll figures.

Best cities for millennial job seekers in Arizona (full data set)

 

City Unemployment rate
in 2013
Average worker payroll
in 2012
Millennial population
in 2013
Percent of millennials
in 2013
Millennial growth
2010-2013
Median rent
in 2013
Overall score
1 Chandler 5.6% $53,923 51,858 21.51% 3.99% $1,079 67.23
2 Scottsdale 4.1% $52,131 37,825 17.09% 2.01% $1,122 66.21
3 Tempe 6.6% $47,492 60,280 36.59% 5.03% $925 65.84
4 Phoenix 7.0% $47,896 341,020 23.14% 0.29% $870 60.65
5 Flagstaff 5.7% $37,799 22,490 33.78% 5.60% $1,035 52.78
6 Douglas 3.9% $22,898 5,033 29.11% 18.31% $539 51.76
7 Tucson 7.5% $37,047 133,711 25.55% 2.47% $742 50.09
8 Sierra Vista 4.2% $32,075 10,650 23.57% 8.46% $931 49.12
9 Sahuarita 2.6% $32,722 4,524 17.62% 24.77% $1,193 49.12
10 Prescott 4.7% $32,232 5,791 14.48% 11.56% $773 48.88
11 Mesa 6.1% $36,353 97,289 21.76% -0.94% $867 48.16
12 Rio Rico 7.0% $37,375 3,342 17.47% -3.74% $742 47.74
13 Glendale 8.0% $38,359 50,609 22.00% -1.91% $854 45.52
14 Marana 4.8% $39,033 6,239 17.41% 4.82% $1,262 45.28
15 Prescott Valley 6.2% $30,565 7,857 20.16% 22.73% $866 44.59
16 Kingman 6.3% $31,970 5,004 17.80% 3.41% $812 42.81
17 Gilbert 4.8% $36,482 41,925 19.44% 3.44% $1,269 42.43
18 Yuma 6.8% $30,739 22,614 24.45% 7.40% $877 41.54
19 Buckeye 5.3% $31,448 12,878 24.47% 9.09% $1,132 40.94
20 Lake Havasu City 5.1% $28,856 6,820 12.93% 11.97% $866 40.86
21 Peoria 5.4% $31,825 28,512 18.14% 9.38% $1,101 39.57
22 Goodyear 4.8% $30,337 13,693 20.28% 10.53% $1,187 38.38
23 Casa Grande 7.4% $31,379 7,980 16.32% 5.39% $857 37.74
24 Fountain Hills 4.3% $31,052 2,172 9.52% 5.69% $1,126 37.24
25 El Mirage 6.0% $27,808 8,087 25.31% 5.29% $1,072 35.45
26 Avondale 7.7% $30,688 18,353 23.87% 12.80% $1,070 35.18
27 Nogales 9.7% $28,260 3,407 16.44% 10.87% $574 35.17
28 San Luis 9.1% $21,754 6,361 22.01% 29.05% $572 34.32
29 Apache Junction 8.7% $28,642 5,066 14.00% 9.42% $763 32.81
30 Maricopa 5.4% $28,835 9,745 22.33% 7.24% $1,280 32.76
31 Bullhead City 7.8% $30,509 5,107 12.91% -17.43% $797 31.38
32 San Tan Valley 6.3% $25,821 19,126 22.91% 12.90% $1,170 30.37
33 Queen Creek 3.7% $24,783 4,475 16.50% -3.95% $1,383 25.80
34 Surprise 5.5% $24,542 19,607 16.51% -0.23% $1,188 25.75

 

Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, via iStock.