Eight Hot Cities for Jobs

June 14, 2012 |


We like our lists here at the vet jobs blog, and Kiplinger’s has an interesting new one for us to chew on: eight urban areas that are expected to see better job prospects than other parts of the country over the next few years. Basing their calculations on cities with at least 1 million people, and above-average population and job growth projections up to 2017, the rundown of the Elite 8 is below. If you’ve worked in these areas or are considering finding a job there, what have your experiences been like? Do they match what Kiplinger’s claims? Sound off in the comments section below.


Population: 1.6 million
Current unemployment rate: 6.5%
Projected job growth over next five years: 18%
Number of new jobs: 140,000

Nashville will be hiring for new jobs along a few major fronts, including auto manufacturing, IT (data processing for cloud computing), transportation (truck and rail transport), as well as health care, education and service positions.

San Antonio

Population: 2.2 million
Current unemployment rate: 6.2%
Projected job growth over next five years: 16%
Number of new jobs: 150,000

Austin grabs the press with its booming tech industry, but San Antonio has a larger metro population, as well as cheaper housing and commercial space, which should lure some heavy hitters into the area over the next few years. Major companies in the area include Valero, NuStar and Tesoro, as well as USAA.

Orlando, Fla.

Population: 2.2 million
Current unemployment rate: 8.2%
Projected job growth over next five years: 15%
Number of new jobs: 150,000

The tourists can’t stay away forever, can they? The home of Disneyworld and Universal Studios is looking at new resorts and hotels to stimulate job creation, and health care is a rising industry in the area. Other big-time companies in the area at AT&T and Siemens.

Raleigh, N.C.

Population: 1.2 million
Current unemployment rate: 7.4%
Projected job growth over next five years: 14%
Number of new jobs: 75,000

As one point in the famous Research Triangle (along with Chapel Hill and Durham), Raleigh is a tech and biotech center, with major universities such as Duke and the University of North Carolina in the area. Companies with a foothold in the area include IBM, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Nortel, Verizon and Lenovo.

Portland, Ore.

Population: 2.2 million
Current unemployment rate: 7.8%
Projected job growth over next five years: 12%
Number of new jobs: 130,000

It might be in Seattle’s shadow as a tech center, but don’t underestimate the City of Roses, as it has more than 1,200 high-tech firms, including Intel, and also sports (no pun intended) a booming sportswear industry, with Nike, Addidas and Columbia Sportswear in the area, which in turn has energized growth for graphic design and marketing services.

Oklahoma City

Population: 1.3 million
Current unemployment rate: 4%
Projected job growth over next five years: 10% to 12%
Number of new jobs: 50,000 to 70,000

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in fifth gear in the NBA Finals, and the city they play in has gotten its own kickstart with a natural gas boom that will prove beneficial for those seeking jobs with gas companies such as Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy. Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma’s medical school are also major employers in the region.


Population: 4.3 million
Current unemployment rate: 6.6%
Projected job growth over next five years: 8% to 10%
Number of new jobs: 100,000 to 150,000

They used to say “Go West, young man” — these days it’s more like “Don’t go quite so far West, young man,” as companies are moving from California to this southwest hub, thanks to lower housing and labor costs. Major companies in the area include Motorola, Honeywell, US Airways and Avnet.


Population: 5.4 million
Current unemployment rate: 8.5%
Projected job growth over next five years: 8%
Number of new jobs: 180,000

Looking for giant companies? Atlanta’s got a bushel of them: UPS, AT&T Mobility, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines.  are among Fortune 500 giants based in Atlanta. the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that the city is seeing its best stretch of job growth in five years — and for some employment sectors the best period since the late 1990s.

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at Military.com. His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.


  1. Claudia says:

    OK I am relocating

    • Mike McCormick says:

      I,m relocating. Phoenix I'm coming. Las Vegas and San Antonio.,top runners up.

  2. John says:

    Atl here we come…

  3. John says:

    Atl here we come!

  4. Greg says:

    San Antonio I'm coming

    • Michael Kaiser says:

      Stats can say whatever you want them to say. Jacksonville is about the same size as Raleigh or OKC – population-wise.. CSX RR and several other large companies hire 67% to 75% Ex-Military folks. I am in Netowkr Mgmt, and everysingle one of the guys in the room right now (14) – are ex-military, including myself (Army).. And CSX plans on hiring MANY more in the next 2 yrs. MK

  5. kurtmel says:

    Honestly, Nashville and Portland surprised me, but none of the others, for San Antonio and Orlando have been hubs of military support and research activities for some time, but Raleigh-Durham and Pheonix didn't really surprise me either, for RDNC had been such a center of research and development for many high tech industries, Pheonix as well, but not to the same extent but still have a very prominent DoD contractor/vendor presence in that area. Having been in every area but Portland, you really can't go wrong with any of those areas, regardless of the specialty/area of expertise you bring to the picture.

  6. Dennis says:


  7. A_T_Smith says:

    I like almost none of these areas. Having been to San Antonio, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Nashville & Orlando I know full well I would not fit there and would hate the environment. I think other than Portland, this list is a wash.

    • Robert says:

      A.T. Smith.
      You must hate sunshine and love liberalism. PORTLAND…….REALLY? Ya sure you a military guy?

      • A_T_Smith says:

        I prefer climates under 100 degrees & views of open water if that's what you mean, also Oregon was on my list of possible destinations. If Chicago wasn't murder capital & California in debt, I'd totally move there. Ultimately, I'm trying to move out of the Midwest and farmland to climate that doesn't remind me of the desert or tropics.

        Also, FYI I am recently separated from the Air Guard after 6 1/2 years of flood duties and trips to the desert. If don't see gnats or sandstorms again I'll be thrilled.

      • 20 year vet says:

        Why in this world or any other would a location be labeled liberal or conservative; people in Porland and the northwest in general are as diverse a mix as you ever will find in the US; I was stationed there twice, and although I didn;t care for the weather, the people were personable, and not given to unwarranted assumptions about their personal or political views. Being in the military favors neither conservatives or liberals, only Americans. We stand with and for ALL Americans, not just those who think what you think, or act in concert with a narrow and unintelligent view of where our best interests are. Save foolish comments for some other blog more worthy of your opinion.

        • Robert says:

          I lived in the northwest for 3 years and recruited there. I’m very familiar with the standard mindset of the area and hold firm to what I previously said. I suppose I would also be wrong if I said San Francisco or NY City had a left of center mindset….just because it is not politically correct does not mean its not true.

  8. Loretta says:

    Am currently looking to relocate myself and family. Have a teenager who plays sports – where ever we end up, the schools must be up to par. I will have my BS in Ultrasound/Management. Thanks for the info.

    • pav says:

      Atlanta is a good area. Lots to do and the schools are great. I am relocating to Cohutta because of the schools.

    • Keith says:

      You obviously are living in oblivion if you can’t make one of these cities work for you

  9. Welcome to San Antonio, TX.–The Alamo–The Riverwalk–The Local Residents–Top Education and Research Institutions–Top USA Military/Agency Warrior Training–And Much, Much More.

    Military Warrior Training and Medical Support.

    • brian conway says:

      A good Texas education. Whatever that might mean.

    • Retired Army says:

      Be sure to check the crime statistics as we have a lot more gangs, graffiti, wrong-way drunk drivers, domestic murders, etc than our population should indicate. School scores should also impact where you live as many are less than ideal. If you move to the smaller towns outside San Antonio, expect delayed commuting for traffic accidents on IH-10 or IH-35 both to and from work. We also have 100 degree temps during the summer from late Jun through Aug usually so be prepared for high air conditioning bills. Water rationing is also generally in place from spring through early winter as we don't get enough rainfall to fill the aquifer to support the population boom in the last 30 years.

    • Michael Kaiser says:

      I speak fluent German and English… I am not moving to any city, even though I love to visit S.A. – where Engslish is a secondary language.. S.A. is borderline in this regard, but I would never live in Miami or Houston for instance..

  10. h walters says:

    I live in Orlando.Fl If we get a change in the with next election the whole USA might stand a better chance!

  11. David says:

    Its just to bad you do noot factor in the people who have exhausted all the unemployment benefits in the Unemployment Rate. Your numbers are wayyy off and I am not the only one. If one was to take the proper survey for people that still do not have employment just go by the way side in that percentage that our leaders think are true. Do the the math and I'm sure in Phoenix, AZ you would find that 6.6% rate is actually 8.5 to 10%. Thanks anyway. You work 38 years of your life and all you get is overlooked because of age, not really the ability that one has.

  12. J says:

    I lived in Raleigh for 6 months and applied to over 60 different jobs. I ended up getting a cashier job… I have a Associate in Science and I am a vet. If you don’t have tons of experience or a specialty 4 year degree then Raleigh isn’t the place for you to start a career.

    • jane says:

      That's not only in Raleigh. As i mentioned below veterans are being discriminated against everything known as equal opportunity. ALL VETERANS ARE NOT OLD AND GRAY, I know I'm not. These employers are asking for people who has 10+ years experience on a job, and everyone knows you can learn a job in a week. So you're not alone! I totally understand and can relate to where you are coming from. When jobs say veterans get preference, I'm like what type of veteran are they looking for? A veteran is a veteran-no matter what-we served our country. I feel that the human resources need to be monitored when making selections because I feel that some personnel may be not be qualified when selecting veterans, and I truly believe that they are bias. Most of the employers are talking diversity, but the top management is Old White men and there's nothing diverse about that-which has raised several concerns. Until I see improvements for me and other veterans-it is what it is. It is time for Employers to stop talking and do something about it. Anyone can talk, we need action to follow with our benefits and our entitlements-

    • jay says:

      Must be something wrong with your resume writing or your interviewing technique. If you have an Associates degree in Science and can't find a job in Research Triangle Park, without having too high of an expectation for starting salary and benefits, something is definitely wrong. I'm a vet with a high school education and have a great job with a biotech company in RTP that I started 4 years ago. People with Associates degrees that have worked for this company have moved at will to any job that they want in biotech companies in the area.

  13. Linda says:

    Portland?!! I live here, and have been trying to find a job for MONTHS! Then again, I'm highly skilled, a baby boomer, and looking for good pay like what I've made in the past. Sure, I could take a much smaller salary that a twenty-something out of college would find reasonable, but that's the best opportunity available here – and companies want those college-age kids, not an older, highly skilled person like me. Age discrimination is alive and well, even for us vets – maybe even more so for vets in Portland, where the overriding culture is against anything having to do with the government and/or military.

    • Pat says:

      Linda is on the $ w/ this one. Portland is very PC & not military friendly. Nor is it 2 mil pop, unless you count the burbs.

      I think Veys can do better elsewhere.

      • JB says:

        You are on point with that. Age discrimination is alive and well across the country. Unemployment is high because companies are not select older vets looking for

  14. jane says:

    Wow is all I can say because I am a veteran and I know other veterans that are struggling to find jobs. I think they say these things to make themselves look better. It's very hard to believe veterans are getting hired. Also, all veterans are not old, gray, and disabled. I believe that veterans are being discriminated against everything listed as equal opportunity (age, race, gender, and etc.,). How are veterans posting that they live in these areas where these so called veteran jobs are available, but they occupy none. Don't even think about coming to Hampton Roads unless you're a retired veteran.

  15. Diggy says:

    I guess there's a really good reason for us to relocate.

  16. AimHighGuy says:

    SAN ANTONIO DOES NOT WANT VETERANS!!! Where did the author get his facts, the Interweb, or Wikipedia? It figures….

    And USAA IS A TERRIBLE EMPLOYER!!! As a veteran and former USAA employee (left as soon as I was vested), USAA expects mediocrity, demands silence, and rewards abusive management, all the things that are counter to military experience. Only go to USAA if you are an AVP or higher, because that's who gets the fat salary, the country club membership, personal use of the corporate jets, and other perks. As a USAA employee you are really serving USAA management, NOT the members.

    The only jobs available in San Antonio are the same ones that are available in boom years: construction, semi-skilled medical technicians, call centers, and hotel/tourism/hospitality. If you have a college degree and some professional experience (such as IT, finance, sales & marketing), you are better off in Austin, Dallas, or Houston. San Antonio is known as the place to go when you want your career to die, that is, when you are ready for retirement.

    Here's an interesting stat: San Antonio has just over 2 million residents and 5 Fortune 500 corporations; Dallas has just under 5 millions residents and 17 F 500 corps; Houston has 6 million residents and 25 F500 corps. The lesson is obvious – go to Dallas or Houston, not San Antonio.

    • Jumpmaster77 says:

      AimHighGuy, you said " Only go to USAA if you are an AVP or higher, because that's who gets the fat salary, the country club membership, personal use of the corporate jets, and other perks" I assume you are former Air Force based on your user name; one question….Does all Air Force members fly via G5s to discuss business or is it just the high ranking Generals? Corporate jets are for the CEOs, VPs, Executives/Senior Managers…etc not everyone…..seems like things didn't work out for you and you’re a little disgruntle, but that doesn't mean that USAA is a terrible place to be employed. I'm in Washington D.C. and I don't work for USAA btw, I'm merely making an observation.

  17. armyvet05 says:

    Washington, DC should be on this list. There are so many opportunities! I have been here for 6 years and have excelled tremendously.

  18. Joe says:

    Interestingly enough, this article that was also posted on Military.com:

    It talks about the changes in the unemployment rate and states quite clearly: "North Carolina reported the biggest loss, shedding 16,500 jobs". I know that Raleigh is only one city in the state, but these two articles seem to be a bit contradicting to me….

  19. Portland is an economic dead zone. Staaaaaay awaaaaayyyyyy . . . .

    Yes, I'm sure Washington, DC, is booming right now, which, I suppose, is nice for the people of DC, but it's not a positive development for the American people or any other kind of people for that matter.

  20. I have to admit that I agree with "J", above. How the the heck can they take accurate unemployment rates? Are those unemployed statistics because they have recently applied for unemployment? Currently receive unemployment benefits? I am positive they do NOT include those unfortunates (like myself) whose benefits are now exhausted. No one has surveyed me in the last 8 months (since my unemployment ran out) to see if I'm still unemployed. I am. And at my age, I have little hope of getting any career opportunities. I'd consider myself LUCKY if I even got called to an interview for flipping burgers at McDonald's. If something doesn't change SOON, I'm going to be one of the faceless, homeless people you see on the street. My landlord's graciousness (for which I am grateful) won't last forever.

    I don't want a handout. I want a HAND. And the last place I expect it from is CORPORATE AMERICA..

  21. Artie says:

    Sorry to inform the writer and all of you, but Nortel went bankrupt over 4 eyars ago and has been broken up and sold off. The buyers have laid off almost all of the former Nortel employees and have pretty much dropped all of the Nortel equipment. If you are over 40, don't bother to apply to them, either.

  22. usmcvet says:

    I’m from the ATL, but I live in alabama and there is no vet love over here so I think I’m going home.

  23. Brenda Tokar says:

    I do not see anything about Criminal Justice posiitions. I know that each state has criminals, but I don't see any jobs in Law Enforcement. I guess none are available. I live in the Black Hills of SD

  24. judy says:

    How about hiring some veterans and getting rid of some of the "waiting to collect a paycheck, deadwood folks that show up with coffee cup in hand and bulls$#@ for 8 hours a day", and maybe the people needing jobs to feed their families and pay their bills and have a roof over their heads would have a chance!! In any city they would want to live in, how about that one? Start with cleaning out Washington, DC, hell they cannot even pass a bill…………………….and waste millions of our tax payers dollars on coming up with one committee to research this committee to find out what the next committee is for……………….."no clue"……………get rid of them all and start fresh…………….

  25. frank says:

    If the highly educated and experienced are not being offered jobs, what does that tell you? If the new corporate hiring model is to hire two part-timers, instead of one full timer, what does that tell you? The answers are obvious imho and should tell you alot about the actual very serious economic problems we are in because of a WORLD WIDE recession. When the word 'austerity' is tossed into the rhetoric of economic discussion, you all should hold on to your hats and only your hats. Sell everything you can – liquidate! – and find a cheaper place to live or stay put. As for veterans preferences ever having ANY kind of REAL weight in the job search, that is VA and DOD propaganda kids. One or two of their advertised 'success stories' are just that: that's public relations, nothing more. They've done it to EVERY generation of vets. There's always plenty of money in a war budget but that budge never includes the costs of transitioning war veterans back into society, so expect a lot of up and coming protests populated by angry and frustrated veterans who put life, mind, and limb on the mind. The best thing to do for SURVIVAL, is to network together as much as possible and pool your resources. Buy or rent houses together, cars, and utilities. Do NOT spend your money on superfulous crap you don't need. Take advantage of your GI Bill BUT REMEMBER that by the time most of you graduate you'll be in your 30's and you will experience the reality of age discrimination in hiring decisions. Those who are mid aged and unemployed are in a world of hurt and you are going to have to be very creative about your survival and expect this economic weakening to continue INDEFINITELY. MOST investors are not investing in the states, they're investing in the pacific rim, china, korea, etc. History bears out that empires decline – ALL empires decline – and denying that ours is on the decline will not move you forward in adjusting to a new world.

    • Carolina says:

      Agree 100%, we should support each other, and stop being individualists. Maybe funding more organizations or something that give real support to all of us.

  26. sherry says:

    veterans I would definately research thoroughly if you are thinking of moving based on this article (the grass is always greener on the other side). I admire anyone willing to take a risk but please be smart. If I were adventurous enough to make a move I would at least choose a place close to relatives or supportive friends (after talking with them first of course)GOOD LUCK!!!