The Hottest Big Cities for Career Growth: More Jobs, Money, and Moves

Hottest Big Cities for Salary Growth

Green for growth, these metros are abundant in jobs, wages, and new moves.

Some cities are all about the hustle. We wanted to know where job seekers are flocking based on four core factors: job growth, unemployment, salaries, and moveBuddha’s own in-move vs. out-move ratio.

Out of the 51 U.S. metro areas with over a million residents, where are the hottest job markets bringing in new moves?

Key Takeaways

  • Raleigh ranks #1 with 3.8% job growth, nearly 7% in wage growth and a steady stream of newcomers: there are 162 inbound movers for every 100 headed out. NC’s #3 Charlotte also ranks.
  • #2 Las Vegas, NV, and #4 Jacksonville, FL, prove that salary increases (8% and 7.7%) don’t dampen job growth. Both, along with #1 Raleigh, have seen some of the highest job growth, 3.8%.
  • Two for Texas: #5 Dallas and #10 Houston are not only great for jobs, but they have consistently been move magnets.
  • #6 Nashville and #7 Richmond, VA are showing positive growth for jobs moves and wages, #8 Boston offers some of the highest salaries in the nation, and #9 Portland has seen unemployment drop 21%.
  • Rochester, NY ranks last among major metros for growth. While salaries have crept up this year, unemployment has also risen, especially in #44 San Jose where salaries may have increased 13% but unemployment rose 50%, both higher increases than any other of the cities analyzed.
  • Memphis, TN, and Denver, CO, join Detroit as the only three metropolitan areas experiencing a decrease in job opportunities since 2021.

Raleigh and Las Vegas are the top move-to metros for jobs in 2024

One is an entertainment capital in the desert, and the other is a “City of Oaks.” What do they have in common? They’re growing jobs faster than anywhere else in the country.

#1 Raleigh, NC has a sky-high move-in to move-out ratio, which might be why year-over-year job growth is higher than anywhere else at 3.8%. Also ranked high for STEM growth, Raleigh’s one side of North Carolina’s “Research Triangle,” a hub near major universities and a thriving tech ecosystem. Its high educational attainment and diverse economy are helping make Raleigh a top choice for new companies as well as workers.

With 294 days of sunshine per year, #2 Las Vegas has become a leader in industries like clean energy, where solar panels reign and where wide, clear views give self-driving cars an advantage. And with 3.8% job growth in the last year, and salary boosts of 6.75%, the desert oasis is a great place to land.

#3 Charlotte, NC, is a big winner in the North Carolina growth story this year, with gains reducing unemployment and raising wages. The only cities to reduce unemployment by a similar margin were regional risers: #1 Raleigh and nearby #7 Richmond, VA.

Florida and Texas’ growth stories continue with #4 Jacksonville, #5 Dallas, and #10 Houston.

Further afield, #6 Nashville, #8 Boston, and #9 Portland, OR serve as hubs for their states’ economic activity. While Nashville’s shown it’s a popular up-and-comer with the #3 move-in ratio on our top ten list, Boston and Portland stand out for the dramatic decrease in unemployment they experienced in 2023.

Growth challenges in post-industrial cities and California too

Many of the top cities declining in jobs are still working to re-envision their economies following their heyday as industrial powerhouses, like #51 Rochester, #49 Milwaukee, and #46 Buffalo. Along with cities that have long experienced population outflows like #50 Memphis, the path to renewal includes stemming rising unemployment.

For others, a job decline is new. Take #47 San Francisco and #44 San Jose, fueled by Silicon Valley’s economic power but clobbered by the pandemic, or #48 San Diego and #45 Riverside, metro areas that have also been hit by the outflow of residents seeking lower home prices outside California.

Overall, the year’s biggest declines were felt by those cities where many more residents were unemployed this year than 2022.

Factor stack up: Which metros are best? 

We wanted to focus on the biggest factor that attracts residents to a new place: their chance of landing a good job offer.

So we looked at four factors that show how much a city has improved for job seekers this year. That included job growth year-over-year, showing a city is adding jobs faster than other metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). We also considered the rate of change in unemployment. Cities shaving points off their unemployment rates are doing the best job of getting job seekers back to work. We incorporated the percentage growth in the average salary, and finally, we added moveBuddha’s own data on move searches in vs. out of an MSA.

While some cities take the prize in each area, superstar cities combine all four, creating the best overall environment for job seekers.

The metros with the best and worst job growth 

Six US metro areas grew jobs by more than 3% this year, while the three worst performers actually lost jobs.

Best Metros for Job Growth Worst Metros for Job Growth
1. Las Vegas, NV (+3.8%)
1. Memphis, TN (-0.6%)
2. Raleigh, NC (+3.8%)
2. Denver, CO (-0.4%)
3. Jacksonville, FL (+3.8%)
3. Detroit, MI (-0.4%)
4. Dallas, TX (+3.3%)
4. Rochester, NY (+0.3%)
5. Miami, FL (+3.0%)
5. Milwaukee, WI (+0.4%)
6. Birmingham, AL (+3.0%)
6. Providence, RI (+0.4%)
7. Austin, TX (+2.8%)
7. Columbus, OH (+0.5%)
8. Richmond, VA (+2.7%)
8. Virginia Beach, VA (+0.6%)
9. Philadelphia, PA (+2.7%)
9. Hartford, CT (+0.7%)
10. San Antonio, TX (+2.6%)
10. Kansas City, MO (+0.8%)

The metros with the best and worst unemployment rate change

There’s some Rust Belt Revival in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, though other one-time industrial giants continue to struggle to keep jobs. Meanwhile, California’s job exodus dominates. San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego average around 38% greater unemployment than last year. Riverside and Sacramento aren’t far behind.

Metros Where Unemployment is Falling Metros Where Unemployment is Rising
1. Baltimore, MD (-35.7%)
1. San Jose, CA (+50.0%)
2. Pittsburgh, PA (-29.3%)
2. San Francisco, CA (+37.9%)
3. Cleveland, OH (-25.0%)
3. San Diego, CA (+27.3%)
4. Portland, OR (-20.9%)
4. Detroit, MI (+25.8%)
5. Minneapolis, MN (-20.8%)
5. Riverside, CA (+24.4%)
6. Las Vegas, NV (-12.1%)
6. Louisville, KY (+24.1%)
7. Philadelphia, PA (-10.8%)
7. Sacramento, CA (+21.6%)
8. Washington, DC (-10.7%)
8. Buffalo, NY (+21.2%)
9. Boston, MA (-10.0%)
9. Rochester, NY (+20.0%)
10. San Antonio, TX (-8.6%)
10. St. Louis, MO (+20.0%)

The metros with the best and worst salary increases

In spite of rising unemployment, salary increases dominate the remaining jobs in San Francisco and San Jose. There’s bad news: many of those salary benefits may disappear thanks to inflation.

Best Metros for Wage Increases Worst Metros for Wage Increases
1. San Jose, CA (+13.10%)
1. Hartford, CT (+2.83%)
2. San Francisco, CA (+8.98%)
2. Providence, RI (+3.49%)
3. New Orleans, LA (+8.10%)
3. Pittsburgh, PA (+3.50%)
4. Las Vegas, NV (+8.04%)
4. Washington, DC (+4.25%)
5. Tampa, FL (+7.94%)
5. Philadelphia, PA (+4.27%)
6. Jacksonville, FL (+7.65%)
6. San Antonio, TX (+4.48%)
7. Miami, FL (+7.65%)
7. Birmingham, AL (+4.49%)
8. Denver, CO (+7.55%)
8. Virginia Beach, VA (+4.64%)
9. Salt Lake City, UT (+7.47%)
9. Houston, TX (+4.79%)
10. Nashville, TN (+7.13%)
10. Minneapolis, MN (+4.80%)



To determine the best and worst metros for job seekers in 2024, we started with the 51 U.S. metropolitan areas with populations of more than one million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

We ranked and scored each of these 51 MSAs based on:

For each metro, we averaged the scores of the four factors then layered in a growth score to award cities seeing the most interest from moves, resulting in a final score on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 indicates the best. 

Rank City, ST Score
1 Raleigh, NC 10.00
2 Las Vegas, NV 9.80
3 Charlotte, NC 9.03
4 Jacksonville, FL 8.98
5 Dallas, TX 8.44
6 Nashville, TN 8.42
7 Richmond, VA 8.39
8 Boston, MA 8.22
9 Portland, OR 7.95
10 Houston, TX 7.90
11 Austin, TX 7.84
12 Orlando, FL 7.76
13 Atlanta, GA 7.67
14 Tampa, FL 7.61
15 Baltimore, MD 7.34
16 Salt Lake City, UT 7.31
17 Miami, FL 7.30
18 New York, NY 7.14
19 Seattle, WA 7.06
20 Cleveland, OH 7.02
21 San Antonio, TX 6.74
22 Virginia Beach, VA 6.74
23 New Orleans, LA 6.63
24 Oklahoma City, OK 6.57
25 Louisville, KY 6.53
26 Denver, CO 6.49
27 Philadelphia, PA 6.43
28 Minneapolis, MN 6.40
29 Cincinnati, OH 6.20
30 Hartford, CT 6.16
31 Birmingham, AL 6.11
32 Pittsburgh, PA 6.04
33 Providence, RI 6.03
34 Washington, DC 5.98
35 Indianapolis, IN 5.90
36 Phoenix, AZ 5.89
37 Chicago, IL 5.59
38 Sacramento, CA 5.48
39 Columbus, OH 5.21
40 Los Angeles, CA 5.20
41 Detroit, MI 5.19
42 Kansas City, MO 5.09
43 St. Louis, MO 5.09
44 San Jose, CA 4.87
45 Riverside, CA 4.63
46 Buffalo, NY 4.63
47 San Francisco, CA 4.60
48 San Diego, CA 4.57
49 Milwaukee, WI 4.45
50 Memphis, TN 4.19
51 Rochester, NY 4.10

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