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The Best Places in Michigan for Job Seekers

Nov. 17, 2013
Home Search, Mortgages
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Many job seekers are looking for employment opportunities in Michigan’s economy. The state government is focused on providing employment assistance for job seekers as well as hiring help for employers. Job seekers can find job training opportunities through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. To help, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Michigan, and we did so by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 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 looked at 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 Michigan for Job Seekers

1.     Livonia

Livonia is located approximately 13 miles northwest of downtown Detroit and is the ninth-largest city in Michigan. Livonia is a great place for workers, as the American City Business Journal named it the Second Least Economic Stressful city. The city saw 4.6 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its households’ median income was $69,887. Livonia’s unemployment rate was also one of the lowest in Michigan, at just 4.2 percent. Major employers in the city include UPS, Roush Enterprises and St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital. Additionally, NYX Inc., an automotive parts producer, is headquartered in Livonia. Livonia is home to Madonna University, which provides a lot of job-seeking resources online. The school also offers job fairs, career counseling and workshops for students to develop employability skills.

2.     Midland

Midland is the seat of Midland County and is a part of the Tri-Cities region in central Michigan. The city’s households earned a median income of $50,203 while its unemployment rate was a low 5.5 percent. Top employers in the city include MidMichigan Health, Dow Corning and The Dow Chemical Company, which is headquartered in Midland. Midland County’s economic development corporation, Midland Tomorrow, focuses on retaining and developing quality jobs as well as helping local chemical and technology businesses grow. Midland is also home to a campus of Northwood University, a school dedicated to developing future business leaders. The school offers adult and online degrees in Business Administration so all students can obtain the education they need.

3.     Dearborn

Dearborn, located in Wayne County, outside of Detroit, is Michigan’s eighth-largest city. The city is the headquarters of Ford Motor Company and home to Henry Ford Museum. The city saw an 8.9 percent increase in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011. Dearborn’s top employers include ADP, Oakwood Healthcare and Ford Motor Company. The University of Michigan-Dearborn provides career services to students and alumni, including career planning and employment preparation. The office also provides specific resources for veterans, including veteran-specific job banks, resume preparation and other veteran programs. Dearborn is also home to a branch of Michigan Works! System, which provides workforce training for Michigan’s residents. Every year, the System serves over four million people statewide.

4.     Rochester Hills 

Located in the metropolitan Detroit area, Rochester Hills is a part of Oakland County. Rochester Hills’s households earned a median income of $79,009 while the city’s unemployment rate in August 2013 was only 5.0 percent. Major employers in Rochester Hills include Oakland University, Crittenton Hospital Medical Center and FANUC Robotics. Oakland University is located in Rochester Hills and provides its students and alumni with plenty of career services, such as information on the job search, interview practice and other job-related workshops.

5.     Kentwood

Kentwood is located in Kent County, in western Michigan, approximately eight miles south of Grand Rapids. Between 2009 and 2011, Kentwood saw 3.6 percent growth in the working-age population, and its households earned a median income of $50,799. Kent County’s largest employers include Spectrum Health System, Axios Inc. and Meijer. The Right Place is western Michigan’s non-profit economic-development organization. It helps identify and expand growth opportunities as well as strengthen existing companies and industries to develop jobs.

6.     Royal Oak

Royal Oak is located in Oakland County, approximately 14 miles north of Detroit. Royal Oak’s households earned a median income of $62,495 in 2011 while the city’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in August 2013. Royal Oak’s largest employers include William Beaumont Hospital, Metaldyne and Consumers Energy. Oakland County Workforce Development coordinates with the Michigan Works! Association to help job seekers find positions through training and employment programs.

7.     Westland 

Westland is located in Wayne County, 16 miles west of downtown Detroit. The city is the 10th largest in Michigan, with over 84,000 residents. From 2009 to 2011, the city’s working-age population grew 3.2 percent, and its unemployment rate was a low 6.1 percent. The largest employers in Westland include Plastipak, Meijer and Lowe’s. Westland is home to Westland Works, a city government program where employers can place job openings on the city website.

8.     Wyoming

Wyoming is located in western Michigan, near Grand Rapids. Wyoming is Michigan’s 16th-largest city by population and western Michigan’s third-largest industrial tax base. The city’s working-age population grew 2.5 percent between 2009 and 2011 while its households earned a median income of $45,246 in 2011. Wyoming’s top employers include Metro Health Hospital, Gordon Food Service and UPS. Wyoming is home to a regional center of Grand Rapids Community College. The college provides specific job resources for students such as career planning, job-outlook information and workshops and classes for career development.

9.     Portage

Portage is located in Kalamazoo County, just south of Kalamazoo, in southwestern Michigan. The city’s households earned a median income of $56,330 between 2009 and 2011, and its unemployment rate stayed low at 5.5 percent as of August 2013. Top employers in the city include Pfizer, Stryker and State Farm. The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is located nearby in Kalamazoo and provides the needed assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the life-sciences field. The Center provides aid with development and marketing as well as scientific equipment at a convenient location in Western Michigan University Business Technology Research Park.

10.  Novi

Located in Oakland County, Novi is approximately 25 miles northwest of Detroit. Novi saw 2.1 percent growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2011, and its median household income of $76,561 is the second highest on the list. Novi’s largest employers include Providence Park Hospital and St. John Health System, Ryder and Magna. Novi is home to a Walsh College campus, which provides Career Services for all students and alumni. The college is also home to the Blackstone LaunchPad, which helps entrepreneurs start their businesses by providing free mentoring as well as access to industry experts and mentors.

Rank City Nearest Big City Working-age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Livonia Detroit 4.6% $69,887 $1,552 4.2% 82.1
2 Midland 3.3% $50,203 $1,246 5.5% 77.0
3 Dearborn Detroit 8.9% $46,685 $1,497 7.0% 75.7
4 Rochester Hills Detroit 3.0% $79,009 $1,987 5.0% 75.5
5 Kentwood Grand Rapids 3.6% $50,799 $1,375 5.7% 75.3
6 Royal Oak Detroit 1.0% $62,495 $1,526 5.3% 74.5
7 Westland Detroit 3.2% $44,466 $1,315 6.1% 73.2
8 Wyoming Grand Rapids 2.5% $45,246 $1,204 6.7% 73.1
9 Portage Kalamazoo -0.1% $56,330 $1,408 5.5% 72.9
10 Novi Detroit 2.1% $76,561 $2,131 5.5% 71.0
11 Sterling Heights Detroit 2.2% $57,272 $1,525 7.3% 70.6
12 Troy Detroit 0.3% $85,946 $2,002 7.4% 69.8
13 Farmington Hills Detroit 1.8% $70,828 $1,974 7.2% 67.9
14 Taylor Detroit 1.0% $42,373 $1,212 8.5% 67.1
15 Bay City 1.2% $36,113 $1,037 9.2% 66.6


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

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 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)

34 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.

Photo Credit: Detroit Skyline by Michael Stout

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