Cities Where Residents Have the Worst Commutes – 2021 Edition

Cities Where Residents Have the Worst Commutes – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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How far you live from work, school and other places you frequent can cost you time, money and health. The U.S. Census says that the average commute takes Americans 27.6 minutes each way. That’s more than 240 hours annually, if you commute twice every workday in 2021. And now that many people have cut back their commutes by working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be thinking about how to save money by carpooling or biking, or you might consider moving to shorten the commuter distance. In either case, SmartAsset examined the largest cities in America to uncover the worst commutes in 2021. Find out how your commute measures up against them.

We compared data from the 100 largest U.S. cities and ranked the worst commutes by six key metrics: commuters as a percentage of workers, average travel time to work, five-year change in average travel time, percentage of workers with a commute of more than 60 minutes, five-year change in percentage of workers with a commute of over 60 minutes, and transportation as a percentage of income. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology below.

This is SmartAsset’s second study on the worst commutes in America. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • California leads the country as the state with the worst commutes. Eight out of the 11 cities on this list are located in the Golden State, averaging 33.6 minutes in travel time to work. Commuters in those cities need twice as long as those with the shortest commute – in Lubbock, Texas, which averages a little more than 16 minutes on a trip to work.
  • The overwhelming majority of workers in America are commuters. On average, 94.3% of workers in the 100 largest U.S. cities are commuters, based on the most recently available Census data from 2019. Scottsdale, Arizona has the smallest percentage of commuters, but it still has 82.1% of its workers traveling to their jobs. Newark, New Jersey has the highest percentage, with 98% of workers averaging almost 35 minutes commuting.
  • The Midwest still offers better commutes. Cities in Northeastern, Southern and Western states tend to rank in the worst third of the study for their less-than-ideal commutes. While Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio crack the top 35 cities with the worst commutes, all other Midwestern cities rank in the bottom half of the list for their relatively short commutes.

1. Riverside, CA

Ranked as the worst commuting city in America, Riverside, California takes the greatest toll on its workers in transit, with 18.6% of them averaging more than 60 minutes on a trip to work. And data shows that commutes are getting longer, with a 3.7% five-year increase (2014 to 2019) in workers traveling for more than one hour. Riverside commutes average 33.9 minutes each way, and this travel time has also increased 13.38% over the same five years.

2. Stockton, CA

Ranking second-worst, Stockton, California saw an increase of 18.68% in average travel time over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. Data shows that 17.8% of workers in this Central Valley city average more than 60 minutes on their commute to work, the fifth-highest percentage for this metric across all 100 cities we studied. The average travel time for residents there is 32.4%, ranking 11th overall.

3. Hialeah, CA

Commute times in Hialeah, Florida, a Miami suburb, have spiked more than any other city in the study with a 26.81% jump between 2014 and 2019. Hialeah has also seen the biggest percentage 2014-to-2019 increase for workers commuting longer than 60 minutes, a 6.1% uptick. However, it is important to note that the city’s percentage of commuters is relatively small: With just 91% of all workers traveling to work, this city ranks 90th out of 100 for this metric in our study.

4. Glendale, AZ

Between 2014 and 2019, the number of workers in Glendale, Arizona with commutes longer than an hour increased 5.6%. This is the second-highest uptick for this metric overall. The percentage of workers with a commute longer than 60 minutes is 12.1%, ranking 16th-highest out of 100. Data shows that with 94.9% of Glendale workers commuting, they average 31.5 minutes on each trip.

5. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, California has seen a five-year (2014 to 2019) increase of 3.3% in workers commuting longer than 60 minutes, the ninth-biggest jump for this metric in the study. With 93.5% of the workforce commuting, 15.4% of Angeleno workers need more than one hour each way to their jobs, the 11th-highest percentage for this metric overall. That said, they only spend 7.91% of their income on commuting, ranking 77th out of 100 for this metric.

6. Oakland, CA

Workers in Oakland, California average 34.4 minutes on each trip to work, the seventh-longest travel time in the study. Oaklanders also rank seventh-highest for the percentage of workers with trips longer than 60 minutes, with 16% of them making treks longer than an hour to the office in 2019. However, Oakland has one of the cheapest commutes, as workers there spend only 5.45% of their income on travel to work, the fourth-lowest rate for this metric overall.

7. Fremont, CA

Fremont, California has seen a 4.3% increase in five years for workers commuting longer than 60 minutes on each trip, the fifth-highest in the study. Residents there also have the third-longest travel time, averaging 36.4 minutes on each commute, and the second-largest proportion of the workforce commuting longer than one hour, at 20.2%. Fremont workers, however, spend only 5.45% of their income on travel to work, tying for fourth-lowest for this metric.

8. San Jose, CA

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, California has the most affordable transportation on our list. Workers there spend only 5% of their income on travel to work. Despite those relatively low costs, San Jose still ranks as the eighth-worst commuting city on our list. Workers average 31.7 minutes on each commute, and they have seen a 14.44% increase in travel time over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. Data also shows that San Jose has seen a 4.8% increase over that time period in commuters traveling more than one hour per trip.

9. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, California averages 34.7 minutes on each commute, the sixth-longest travel time in the study. The Bay Area city also has one of the largest groups of workers commuting the longest, with 15.7% needing more than 60 minutes to commute one way. That said, San Francisco workers have a relatively affordable commute, as residents there spend only 5.45% of their income on travel for work. The city ties for fourth-lowest out of 100 for this metric.

10. New York, NY (tie)

New York City ties with Long Beach, California for the final spot in the 11 cities where residents have the worst commutes. The average travel time for New Yorkers is 41.7 minutes, the longest travel time in our study. New York City also has the highest percentage of workers who travel more than 60 minutes each way, at 27.2%. Despite the duration, the city ranks 16th-lowest out of 100 for transportation costs, with workers spending less than 8% of their income on commuting.

10. Long Beach, CA (tie)

Long Beach, California ties with New York as the 10th-worst U.S. city for residents’ commutes. Residents there have seen a 2.1% increase over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019 in the number of workers traveling more than one hour to work each day. Long Beach has the 12th-longest commute on our list, averaging 32 minutes for each trip. And 14.9% of the workforce is traveling for longer than 60 minutes during each trip, the 12th-largest for this metric in the study.

Data and Methodology

To find the cities with the worst commutes, we compared the 100 largest cities in the country across the following metrics:

  • Commuters as a percentage of workers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average travel time to work in 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Five-year change in average travel time. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 and 2014 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Percentage of workers with a commute of longer than 60 minutes. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Five-year change in percentage of workers with a commute of longer than 60 minutes. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 and 2014 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Transportation as a percentage of income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey and the March 2020 MIT Living Wage Study.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found each city average ranking, giving all metrics an equal weight except for average travel time, which received a double weight. Next, we ranked the cities based on this average, giving the city with the highest average an index score of 100 and the city with the lowest average an index score of 0.

Tips for Managing Your Money While on the Go

  • Locate a one-stop shop for expert financial support. Need something to do on a long commute? Think about finding a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now
  • Take a new route in your budget management. If transportation is eating up a lot of money, consider creating a budget using SmartAsset’s free budget tool.
  • Plan your road to retirement. It’s never too early – or too late, for that matter – to start saving as much as you can for retirement. Get ready for your golden years by saving using a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com. 

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/simonkr

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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Best Places for Women Entrepreneurs – 2020 Edition

Best Places for Women Entrepreneurs – 2020 Edition – SmartAsset

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While women have certainly made strides in many areas of the business world, when it comes to entrepreneurship, a significant gender gap remains. Around 10.2% of women between ages 18 and 64 are new entrepreneurs, a rate around three-quarters that of men, according to the 2018-2019 Women’s Report from The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Though there’s clearly still room for growth, women who are starting their own businesses have the opportunity to take ownership of their long-term financial goals, including how much they sock away in a savings account. But not all locales are equally conducive to their success. As such, SmartAsset sought to uncover which metro areas are best for women entrepreneurs.

To do this, we compared 50 of the largest metro areas across the following metrics: number of female-owned businesses, percentage of businesses owned by women, women-owned businesses as a percentage of businesses with greater than 500 employees, new businesses as a percentage of total businesses, new business applications in 2020 relative to previous years, percentage of businesses that had profits or broke even, startup survival rate, women-to-men pay ratio, 2019 female unemployment rate and September 2020 unemployment rate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second study on the best places for women entrepreneurs. Read the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • The percentage of women-owned businesses is paltry, but especially so for large companies. Five metros in our top 10 — Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle and Miami — rank in the top 10 for our metric tracking the percentage of businesses owned by women, with Atlanta leading that pack at 21.92%. Though women-owned businesses only constitute about a fifth of all business at the top, the numbers are even more meager for women-owned businesses with greater than 500 employees: in New York, which ranks first for this metric, women own only 3.56% of all businesses of this size.
  • Despite the pandemic, new businesses are still being formed. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on the fortunes of many businesses, entrepreneurs in the U.S. are still founding new companies. Data from the Census Bureau shows that the number of new business applications in 2020 thus far is up 5% compared to the average over the past few years, indicating that amid this crisis, increasingly more entrepreneurs still want to form new firms.

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

For the second consecutive year, the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota-Wisconsin is the best place in the country for women entrepreneurs. The unemployment rate for women in this area was 1.8% in 2019, the lowest rate for this metric in the study. Furthermore, 84.49% of businesses in the Minneapolis area had a profit or broke even in 2017, the second-highest percentage across all metro areas we analyzed. Women-owned businesses make up a little less than 3% of all businesses with greater than 500 employees in this metro area. While relatively low, that figure is actually the eighth-highest percentage for this metric in the study.

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California metro area, which includes parts of Orange County, is the No. 2 place in the nation for women entrepreneurs. Due in part to its large population, Los Angeles area has 64,632 women-owned businesses overall, the second-highest number for this metric in the study (behind only the New York City metro area). Los Angeles also ranks ninth out of 50 in terms of the percentage of businesses that are owned by women, at 20.99%, and third out of 50 in terms of women-owned businesses as a percentage of businesses with greater than 500 employees, at 3.20%.

3. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

There are also a substantial number of women-owned businesses in the Atlanta metro area. The raw total is 24,130, sixth-highest in the study, and that represents 21.92% of all businesses, the fourth-highest in the study. Women in the Atlanta area earn 76.79% as much as men, the 12th-best rate for this metric across all 50 metro areas we analyzed. The metro area also benefits from the fact that Georgia ranks first for the number of new state-wide business applications in 2020 relative to the previous five years, at 142.77%.

4. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

New businesses represent 10.22% of all establishments in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado metro area, the third-highest percentage for this metric in our study. A lot of the establishments in the area at least break even, too – 83.90% to be specific, the seventh-highest percentage we observed for this metric in the study. The Denver area also ranks seventh-best for the percentage of businesses that are owned by women, 21.78%.

5. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

Sacramento is the capital of California, and the metro area around the city takes the No. 5 spot in terms of the best places to be a woman entrepreneur. The Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom metropolitan area saw 84.70% of businesses either turn a profit or break even in 2017, the highest percentage we observed. The startup survival rate in California is 81.33%, placing the Sacramento area fifth in that metric. New businesses in the area represent 9.10% of all businesses, good for 12th overall.

6. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Women in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida metro area earn 79.68% as much as men, the sixth-best ratio of the metro areas included in this study. Tampa also benefits from the fact that Florida fares well in terms of new businesses created in 2020 (a state-wide metric): The total new business applications filed this year is 113.42% of the average filed over the past five years, the ninth-highest rate. Tampa also finishes in 11th place out of 50 for both unemployment metrics we measured. The unemployment rate for women in 2019 was 2.4%, and the overall unemployment rate in September 2020 was 6.1%.

7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

There are 17,724 businesses owned by women in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington metro area, ranking 10th of 50. That figure represents 21.25% of all businesses in the Seattle metro area, the eighth-highest percentage in the study. The pay gap in Seattle, though, remains large. Women earn just 68.21% as much as men there, placing the area 46th out of 50 for this metric.

8. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina metro area comes in at No. 8. Women-owned businesses make up 3.26% of all businesses with greater than 500 employees. The only other metric for which the Charlotte area finishes in the top 10 is the percentage of businesses that broke even or turned a profit, coming in ninth at 83.14%. The area has just 8,581 female-owned businesses, putting it near the middle of this list at 24th out of 50.

9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida metro area, there are 36,496 businesses owned by women, representing 21.88% of all the businesses in the metro area. That places Miami in fourth and fifth in those two metrics, respectively. The Miami area hasn’t been doing well in terms of employment lately, though. The unemployment rate in September 2020 was 10.1%, in the bottom five of this study. That said, the metro area ranks fifth out of 50 for women-owned businesses as a percentage of businesses with greater than 500 employees (3.17%). Furthermore, it ranks ninth overall for the statewide metric of new business applications in 2020 relative to previous years (113.42%) and third overall for women-to-men pay ratio (81.19%).

10. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

The final area in the top 10 of this study is Dallas-Fort-Worth-Arlington, Texas. There are 24,383 businesses in the area owned by women, the fifth-highest rate for this metric in the study. Of the businesses in the metro area with more than 500 employees, 3.19% of them are owned by women, which is the fourth-highest percentage for this metric across the 50 areas we analyzed. A lot of businesses in the area don’t fare as well as they would probably like, though: Only 79.42% break even or turn a profit, 44th out of 50 in the study. However, the metro area ranks sixth overall for the statewide metric of new businesses as a percentage of total businesses, at 9.54%.

Data and Methodology

To find the best metro areas for women to be entrepreneurs we compared 50 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country across a number of metrics. Though we’ve done this study in previous years, we added two metrics this year to give more timeliness to our results: new business applications in 2020 compared with the average of the previous five years, and the unemployment rate in September 2020. Here are all the metrics we used:

  • Number of women-owned businesses. Data is for businesses with paid employees and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Business Survey.
  • Percentage of women-owned businesses. Data is for businesses with paid employees and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Business Survey.
  • Percentage of businesses with at least 500 paid employees that are women owned. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Business Survey.
  • New businesses as a percentage of total businesses. This includes businesses established in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as a percentage of all businesses. Data is for businesses with paid employees and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Business Survey.
  • New business applications in 2020 relative to the 2015-2019 average by state. Figures for new business applications are not seasonally adjusted and include only those with planned wages for workers. We compared the number of new business applications from Week 1 of 2020 through Week 42 of 2020 (i.e. December 30, 2019 through October 24, 2020) to the average number of applications filed during those first 43 weeks of the year for the five-year period spanning from 2015 through 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics.
  • Percentage of all businesses that had profits or broke even. Data is for businesses with paid employees and comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 Annual Business Survey.
  • Startup early survival rate (by state). This is the percentage of startups that are still active after one year. Data comes from the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship report and is for 2019.
  • Women-to-men pay ratio. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey and is for 2019. It accounts for both part-time and full-time workers.
  • Unemployment rate for women. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey and is for 2019.
  • Overall unemployment rate for September 2020. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

First, we ranked each metro area in every metric. We then found the average ranking for each metro area, giving a full weight to all metrics except for the two new business metrics and the two unemployment metrics, all of which received a half-weight. We then came to a final ranking based on these averages, with the top metro area receiving an index score of 100 and the bottom metro area receiving an index score of 0.

Tips for Entrepreneurs

  • Invest in professional advice. If you are looking for help with your money or your business, consider finding a financial advisor to help you. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
  • Taxes don’t always have to be taxing. Knowing your tax burden is key to a successful financial life and running your business efficiently. Use SmartAsset’s free tax calculator to see what you might owe.
  • Nail down your elevator pitch. Want to make sure you are a successful entrepreneur? Make sure you know what your product is and what your audience is before you even actually start the business.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/alvarez

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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Best Cities for Women’s Pay – 2021 Edition

Best Cities for Women’s Pay – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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Women’s earnings in the U.S. make up about 81% of men’s, according to Census Bureau data from the past several years. Though this figure has steadily grown over the course of decades, researchers predict the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could set back pay for women. Bureau of Labor Statistics data unequivocally shows that the COVID-19 crisis has had a disproportionate impact on women’s participation in the labor force and unemployment, and many analysts theorize this will carry over to women’s earnings.

In this study, SmartAsset uncovered the best cities for women’s pay leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. We compared the 150 largest U.S. across four metrics: median earnings for women, growth in women’s earnings, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings and the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. Both metrics that examine changes over time consider the years 2017 and 2019. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the best cities for women’s pay. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • Midwestern cities lag. Among the top 10 cities for women’s pay, the Northeast, South and West are all represented. There are two cities in the Northeast, three in the South and five in the West. The first Midwest city in our ranking, however, is Overland Park, Kansas, coming in at 19th. Though both Chicago, Illinois and Cleveland, Ohio squeeze into our top 25, women’s earnings fall significantly short of men’s. The pay gap in all three Midwest cities in our top 25 is greater than 10%.
  • Median earnings for women do not equal or surpass men’s earnings in any city in our study. Last year, we found that median earnings for women were equal to or exceed median earnings for men in four cities: Yonkers, New York; Spring Valley, Nevada; Tempe, Arizona and Aurora, Colorado. Though Sacramento, California has the highest women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings this year, it is still at 99.05%.

1. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina ranks in the top quartile of cities for all four metrics in our study. It has the 32nd-highest median earnings for women (about $50,300), and women’s earnings make up the 10th-highest percentage of men’s earnings (almost 96%). Between 2017 and 2019, Raleigh had the sixth-greatest increase in earnings for women (18.62%) and fourth-highest increase in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (13.05%).

2. Tacoma, WA

Women in Tacoma, Washington earn roughly $49,700 on average. Though this figure does not fall in the top fifth of the study, Tacoma ranks within the top 15 cities for our other three metrics: Women’s earnings increased by more than 17% between 2017 and 2019 and women’s earnings make up about 93% of men’s earnings – almost 10% higher than in 2017.

3. Huntington Beach, CA

Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings increased the most in Huntington Beach, California compared to any other city in our study. Census Bureau data shows that the gender pay gap closed by almost 16% between 2017 and 2019. Huntington Beach also has the 12th-highest median earnings for women, at $61,148.

4. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California has the smallest pay gap of all 150 cities in our study. In 2019, women’s earnings made up 99.05% of men’s earnings. This figure is 7.27% higher than it was 2017. As a gross figure, median earnings for women in Sacramento are about $50,400, 31st-highest of the cities we considered.

5. Jersey City, NJ

Earnings for women in Jersey City, New Jersey grew by the second-highest rate of any city in the study. Between 2017 and 2019, median women’s earnings increased by 22.82%. As a result of that growth, 2019 median earnings for women in Jersey City are the seventh-highest overall, at $62,530.

6. St. Petersburg, FL

Women’s earnings in St. Petersburg, Florida have grown substantially over the past couple years. In 2017, median earnings for women were less than $40,400, and in 2019, they were greater than $45,700 – marking a two-year growth of 13.39%, 19th-highest in our study. Relative to men, women in St. Petersburg earn about 8% less on average.

7. Honolulu, HI

Honolulu, Hawaii ranks in the top third of our study for all four metrics we considered. It has the 38th-highest median earnings for women (about $47,700) and ranks 45th-best for women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (88.51%). Between 2017 and 2019, the capital of Hawaii had the 20th-greatest increase in women’s earnings (13.24%) and 19th-largest change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (almost 7%).

8. Portland, OR

From 2017 to 2019, median earnings for women in Portland, Oregon increased by 18.40% – the third-highest increase of any city in our top 10 and seventh-largest overall.  With that increase, Portland has the 17th-highest 2019 median earnings for women, at more than $55,200.

9. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, Maryland ranks in the top 20 cities of the study for two metrics: women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (92.31%) and growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (6.47%). Census Bureau data from 2019 shows that median earnings for women in Baltimore are about $47,500, 39th-highest across all 150 cities in our study.

10. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts rounds out our list of the top cities for women’s pay. Women’s earnings in Boston are the 11th-highest in our study, at roughly $61,700. Boston additionally ranks in the top 25 for women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (91.88%) and the two-year growth in women’s earnings (12.23%).

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for women’s pay, SmartAsset looked at the 150 largest cities in the U.S. We compared those cities across four metrics:

  • Median earnings for women. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. This is median earnings for women divided by median earnings for men. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Growth in women’s earnings. This is the change in median earnings for women from 2017 to 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. This is the difference between women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings in 2017 and 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.

In all cases, earnings figures are for full-time workers 16 years and older.

To determine our final list, we ranked each city in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each city’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Maximizing Your Paycheck

  • Contribute to a 401(k). A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan in which you divert pre-tax portions of your monthly paycheck into a retirement account. Some employers will also match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary, meaning that if you chose not to contribute, you are essentially leaving money on the table. Take a look at our 401(k) calculator to see how you and your employer’s contributions can add up.
  • Consider professional help. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/AndreyPopov

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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Best Cities to Work From Home in 2021

Best Cities to Work From Home in 2021 – SmartAsset

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Since the onset of COVID-19, remote work has become the norm for many Americans, allowing them to continue to meet some of their expenses while saving where possible. In the late spring of 2020, about half of American workers were working from home, according to two surveys conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Many researchers believe that increased work flexibility and work-from-home opportunities may continue even after the pandemic is over. With that in mind, SmartAsset looked at the best cities to work from home in 2021.

To determine our rankings, we compared 100 of the largest U.S. cities across seven metrics. They span work-from-home flexibility prior to and during COVID-19, along with employment opportunities, poverty rates and housing affordability. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the best cities to work from home. Our 2020 edition can be found here. Note: This year’s methodology was adjusted to account for COVID-19 and its impact.

Key Findings

  • A strong showing from North Carolina. Three cities in North Carolina rank in our top 10: Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, taking second, sixth and seventh place, respectively. In all three cities, the percentage of people working from home grew by more than 3% between 2014 and 2019, so that even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 7% of all three cities’ workforces worked remotely.
  • Mid-sized cities also rank well. With the exceptions of Charlotte, North Carolina and Austin, Texas, all other cities in our top 10 have populations between 240,000 and 500,000. These cities potentially offer residents larger homes and apartments better suited to working from home. In all eight cities, more than 80% of residences have two or more bedrooms and workforces of which more than 7% were remote in 2019.

1. Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale, Arizona ranks in the top five cities for four of the seven metrics we considered. Census Bureau data shows that in 2019 about 17.9% of workers did work from home, a 6.7% increase from 2014. Additionally, Scottsdale has the fourth-highest estimated percentage of the workforce who can work from home – at about 37% – and third-lowest 2019 poverty rate – at 6.0%.

2. Raleigh, NC

Like Scottsdale, a high proportion of the workforce in Raleigh, North Carolina worked from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 10.5% of the workforce worked remotely in 2019 – the fourth-highest rate for this metric in our study. Raleigh also ranks in the top quartile of our study for four other metrics: It has the 21st-highest estimated percentage of the workforce that can work from home (31.79%), fourth-largest five-year change in workers working from home (4.3%), 18th-lowest October 2020 unemployment rate (5.3%) and 21st-lowest poverty rate (10.9%).

3. Plano, TX

North of Dallas, Plano, Texas ranks as the No. 3 city to work from home in 2021. It ranks in the top 10% of the study for three metrics: percentage of the workforce who did work from home in 2019 (9.6%), estimated percentage of the workforce who are able to work from home (35.44%) and 2019 poverty rate (7.5%). Additionally, Plano has the 14th-lowest October 2020 unemployment rate, at 5.2%.

4. Gilbert, AZ

Working from home often requires more space, whether that’s a dedicated room or section of a room where one sets up shop. Gilbert, Arizona – one of our best cities to buy an affordable home – has the potential for just that, with a high percentage of residences that have two or more bedrooms. Census Bureau data shows that 96.3% of Gilbert apartments and homes have two or more bedrooms, the highest percentage for this metric in our study. Gilbert also ranks well in our study due to its high percentage of the workforce that worked from home in 2019 (9.5%) and relatively low poverty rate (4.6%).

5. St. Petersburg, FL

With particularly strong low unemployment numbers, St. Petersburg, Florida takes the No. 5 spot. As of October 2020, the greater Pinellas County unemployment rate was just 5.2%, which is 1.5 percentage points below the national average. Remote work has also grown more popular here over the years: The percentage of the workforce working from home grew by 4.6% in St. Petersburg from 2014 to 2019, the third-highest increase in the study.

6. Durham, NC

Durham, North Carolina ranks in the top third of cities across six of the seven metrics we considered, only falling behind for its high poverty rate (15.2%). Durham had the 10th-highest 2014-2019 increase in the study of the percentage of the workforce working from home – and as of 2019, more than 7% of the city’s workforce worked remotely. Taking into account recent changes during COVID-19, we estimate that an additional roughly 25% of the workforce could have telework flexibility.

The October 2020 employment rate in Durham stood at 5.7%. Furthermore, housing costs make up less than 36% of earnings and 86.3% of residences have two or more bedrooms.

7. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, North Carolina saw the second-largest 2014-2019 increase in the study of the percentage of its workforce working from home, at 4.8%, such that in 2019, 10.0% of workers were remote. Charlotte ranks 23rd-lowest out of all 100 cities for its relatively low poverty rate, at 11.2%.

8. Colorado Springs, CO

Though housing costs as a percentage of earnings are high in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the city ranks in the top quartile of cities for four metrics. It saw the seventh-largest 2014-2019 increase in percentage of workers reporting they worked remotely (3.6%), and it had the 13th-highest percentage of 2019 remote workers (8.5%). Moreover, the city’s 2019 poverty rate is the 12th-lowest overall (9.3%), and it has the 17th-highest percentage of homes and apartments with two or more bedrooms (87.3%).

9. Austin, TX

Working from home was on the rise in Austin, Texas prior to COVID-19. The percentage of workers reporting they worked from home increased by 3.7% over five years, from 7.1% in 2014 to 10.8% in 2019. With that increase, Austin had the third-highest 2019 percentage of the workforce who worked from home across all 100 cities. Employment in Austin has remained strong during COVID-19 relative to other cities. As of October 2020, its unemployment rate was 5.2% – the 14th-lowest of 100 of the largest cities and 1.5 percentage points lower than the national average.

10. Fremont, CA

Fremont, California rounds out our list of the 10 best cities to work from home in 2021. Based on the occupational breakdown of workers, we found that upwards of 35% of Fremont’s workforce could work from home if necessary – a top-10 rate. Apartments and homes in Fremont also generally have the space for working from home. Census Bureau data shows that 87.7% of residences in Fremont have two or more bedrooms – the 13th-highest percentage in our study.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities to work from home in 2021, we examined data for the 100 largest U.S. cities. We compared those cities across seven metrics:

  • Percentage of the workforce who worked from home in 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Estimated percentage of the workforce who can work from home. This metric was calculated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017-2018 Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules Survey and the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Five-year change in percentage of the workers reporting they work from home. This is the difference between the percentage of the workforce who worked from home in 2014 and 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2014 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • October 2020 unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is at the county level.
  • Poverty rate. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of earnings. This is median annual housing costs divided by median earnings for workers 16 years and older. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of residences with two or more bedrooms. This includes both owned and rented apartments and houses. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

We ranked each city in every metric, giving a double weighting to one metric – the estimated percentage of the workforce who can work from home – and a full weighting to all other metrics. We then found each city’s average ranking and used that average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Deciding Where to Live?

  • Buy or rent? Even if you have the savings to buy a first home, be sure the switch makes sense. If you are coming to a city and plan to stay for the long haul, buying may be the better option for you. Additionally, a home may offer more space for people who do regularly work from home. However, if your stop in a new city will be a short one, renting may make the most sense. SmartAsset’s rent vs. buy calculator can help you see the cost differential between purchasing a home or apartment and renting.
  • Mortgage management. It is important when purchasing a home to know what you’ll pay each month and for how long. To get a sense of what that might look like, check out SmartAsset’s free mortgage calculator.
  • Seek out trusted advice. No matter where you live, a financial advisor can help you get your financial life in order. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

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Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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Most In-Demand Jobs for Bachelor’s Degree Holders – 2021 Edition

Most In-Demand Jobs for Bachelor’s Degree Holders – 2021 Edition

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Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education for entry are often more insulated from unemployment than others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, total unemployment for individuals 25 years and older spiked to 13.1% in April 2020. However, the highest unemployment rate over the past year for bachelor’s degree holders 25 and older was 8.4% in April 2020. As of November 2020, the national unemployment rate was 6.7% – 2.5 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders.

Some jobs for bachelor’s degree holders may be even more insulated from economic changes as demand is high. In this study, we investigated the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. We compared a total of 131 occupations across four metrics: percentage change in average earnings from 2018 to 2019, percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019, projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 and projected percentage change in employment from 2019 to 2029. For details on our data sources or how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. Check out the 2020 rankings here.

Key Findings

  • A list similar to last year. Almost half of the 10 most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders in 2021 were in our top 10 last year. They are computer and information systems managers, information security analysts, interpreters & translators and medical & health service managers. Of those four occupations, interpreters & translators saw the biggest jump between the two years, moving down five spots from first to sixth.
  • More than 30% growth expected in two occupations. On average across the 131 occupations in our study, employment is expected to grow by 5.0% between 2019 and 2029. But the expected growth is more than six times higher for two occupations – information security analysts and medical & health service managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment increases of 31.2% and 31.5% for those two occupations, respectively, between 2019 and 2029.

1. Producers and Directors

The producer and director occupation ranks in the top quartile of our study for all four metrics we considered. Between 2018 and 2019, employment of producers and directors grew by almost 9%, while average earnings rose by about 5%. Moreover, the BLS projects the occupation will continue to grow. According to their estimates, the number of producers and directors will increase by 16,000, or 10.0%, from 2019 to 2029.

2. Computer and Information Systems Managers (tie)

The computer and information systems manager occupation ranks in the top 15% of occupations for three of the four metrics in our study. The occupation saw the ninth-largest percentage increase in employment from 2018 to 2019, growing by 10.87%. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS expects it will grow by another 10.4%, adding 48,100 workers. Across all 131 occupations, that is the 19th-highest percentage increase and ninth-largest gross increase in workers.

2. Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers and Athletes (tie)

The occupation of agent and business manager for artists, performers and athletes ties with computer and information systems manager as the No. 2 in-demand job for bachelor’s degree holders. Between 2018 and 2019, average pay for agents and business managers for artists, performers and athletes grew by almost 7%, the seventh-highest rate across all 131 occupations. Over the same time period, employment grew by 15%, second-highest in our study for this metric.

4. Information Security Analysts

Information security analyst is the fourth most in-demand job for bachelor’s degree holders, moving up from fifth place last year. Though average earnings grew at a comparable pace year-over-year, employment increased sharply in this profession. BLS estimates show that information security analyst employment increased by 16.20%. There were about 108,100 information security analysts in 2018 and almost 125,600 in 2019.

5. Actuaries

Most actuaries work for insurance companies, assessing the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. Between 2018 and 2019, average earnings for actuaries grew by 4.06% – the 15th-highest one-year earnings increase in our study. Additionally, between 2019 and 2029, employment for this occupation is expected to grow by another 17.6%, the seventh-largest percentage change in employment in the study.

6. Interpreters and Translators

According to BLS employment projections, the number of interpreters and translators in the U.S. is expected to increase by 20.0% between 2019 and 2029, a top-five rate in our study. With that projected percentage change, employment will grow by roughly 15,500 workers, a top-30 rate. Most recently, from 2018 to 2019, average earnings for interpreters and translators grew by 3.20%, the 25th-highest rate for this metric in the study.

7. Fundraisers

The occupation of fundraiser ranks in the top third of all 131 occupations for three of the four metrics we considered. Between 2018 and 2019, employment grew by 7.87%, the 19th-highest rate. Looking forward, total employment of fundraisers is expected to grow by 14,400, or 14.3%, over the next 10 years – the 30th-largest gross increase and 11th-highest percentage increase.

8. Medical and Health Service Managers

Medical and health service managers plan and coordinate the business activities of healthcare providers. Average earnings for medical and health service managers are high and growing. In 2018 and 2019, average earnings for workers in the occupation stood at $113,730 and $115,160, respectively. Additionally, across the 131 occupations in our study, BLS expects the profession to have the third-largest gross employment increase (133,200 workers) and highest percentage employment increase (31.5%) over approximately the next decade.

9. Athletic Trainers

Between 2019 and 2029, the occupation of athletic trainer is expected to grow by 16.2%, the ninth-highest rate for this metric in our study. Athletic trainers may also see their earnings continue to grow over time. Between 2018 and 2019, average earnings for athletic trainers increased by 2.56% from about $49,300 to more than $50,500.

10. Compensation, Benefits and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits and job analysis specialist rounds out our list of the top 10 most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. Average earnings for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists grew by 2.84% between 2018 and 2019, 33rd-highest in our study. The occupation ranks within the top third of the study for the other three metrics as well. It had the 26th-highest percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019 (6.88%), the 43rd-greatest projected gross employment change from 2019 to 2029 (7,500) and the 28th-highest projected percentage employment change from 2019 to 2029 (7.9%).

Data and Methodology

To find the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders, we looked at data for 131 occupations that the BLS classifies as typically requiring a bachelor’s degree for entry. We compared the 131 occupations across four metrics:

  • Percentage change in average earnings from 2018 to 2019. Data comes from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2018 and May 2019.
  • Percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019. Data comes from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2018 and May 2019.
  • Projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 (gross figure). This is the projected change in the total number of people employed in an occupation from 2019 to 2029. Data comes from the BLS 2019 Employment Projections.
  • Projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 (percentage change). This is the projected percentage change in the number of people employed in an occupation from 2019 to 2029. Data comes from the BLS 2019 Employment Projections.

We ranked each occupation in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each occupation’s average ranking and used that to determine a final score. The occupation with the best average ranking received a score of 100 while the occupation with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Making Educated Choices With Your Earnings

  • Invest early. With relatively high income and earnings, many bachelor’s degree workers may be able to have an early retirement. To do this, it is important to take advantage of compound interest by investing early. Take a look at our investment calculator to see how your investment in a savings account can grow over time.
  • Contribute to a 401(k). A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan in which you divert pre-tax portions of your monthly paycheck into a retirement account. Some employers will also match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary, meaning that if you chose not to contribute, you are essentially leaving money on the table. Our 401(k) calculator can help you determine what you saved for retirement so far and how much more you may need.
  • Consider professional help. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money. Finding the right financial advisor that doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/martin-dm

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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Most Livable Mid-Sized Cities – 2020 Edition

Most Livable Mid-Sized Cities – 2020 Edition – SmartAsset

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For Americans seeking a more affordable and less crowded alternative to the bustle of a big city but not interested in very small towns, a mid-sized city might be the best place to put down roots. But not all of them are equally suited to meet the needs of their inhabitants. That’s why SmartAsset crunched the numbers on a variety of financial factors to find the mid-sized cities that are the most livable.

To do so, SmartAsset considered data for 227 cities across the following eight metrics: Gini coefficient, four-year home value change, median monthly housing costs, poverty rate, median household income, July 2020 unemployment rate, percentage of residents without health insurance and average commute time. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth study on the most livable mid-sized cities. Check out the 2019 edition here.

Key Findings

  • Unemployment is on par with the national average. The average unemployment rate for the mid-sized cities in our study was 10.7% in July 2020, just slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 10.2%. A few cities we analyzed, though, have significantly lower unemployment rates. In Meridian, Idaho, the unemployment rate was just 5.0%, part of the reason it ranks fourth overall. The lowest unemployment rate we found was 3.6% in Provo, Utah.
  • Some consistency in the most livable mid-sized cities year over year. Exactly half of the cities in the top 10 of this year’s study were also in the top 10 last year: Rochester, Minnesota; Overland Park, Kansas; Meridian, Idaho; Centennial, Colorado and Arvada, Colorado. This suggests that while there is some consistency, some of the numbers that varied widely year-to-year, like unemployment and poverty rate, may have had a big impact in the reordering of this list.

1. Rochester, MN

Rochester, Minnesota has an average commute time of just 16.2 minutes – the fifth-lowest in the study – so you don’t need to worry about adding on an extra few hours to your work day that you’ll have to spend in the car. The city had an unemployment rate of 7.0% in July 2020, the 31st-lowest of the total 227 cities we studied. It also ranked 42nd for its relatively low poverty rate, which comes in at 7.4%.

2. Olathe, KS

Olathe, Kansas ranks 12th-best for the Gini coefficient, a metric that measures income inequality. Olathe has a poverty rate of 6.3%, 24th-best among the 227 cities we analyzed. The city’s July 2020 unemployment rate is tied for 19th-lowest, at 6.6%. Median household income in Olathe ranks 34th overall and is third-highest in the top 10, at almost $94,300.

3. Overland Park, KS

Overland Park, Kansas ranks within the top 20% of study for four of the eight metrics we considered. The poverty rate in the city is 3.8%, eighth-lowest in the study. Overland Park is tied for 19th in terms of July 2020 unemployment rate, coming in at 6.6%. The city also places 31st for the percentage of residents without health insurance, at 5.2%. Furthermore, the median household income in Overland Park is 39th-highest out of 227, at $91,518.

4. Meridian, ID

Meridian, Idaho saw home values increase by 55.61% from 2015 to 2019, the ninth-highest jump in the study and the highest in the top 10. The July 2020 unemployment rate in the city was a low 5.0%, the second-best rate of all 227 cities that qualified for this study. Meridian’s Gini coefficient is the 14th-best, implying relatively low levels of income inequality.

5. Centennial, CO

Centennial, Colorado is the first of two cities in the Rocky Mountain State to crack the top 10. Centennial’s poverty rate is 3.0%, the second-lowest in the study. Centennial also has the 14th-highest median household income of all 227 cities we analyzed, $111,257. The city ranks 11th in terms of the percentage of residents without health insurance, with just 3.9% of people in Centennial being uninsured.

6. Arvada, CO

The second Colorado city in the top 10 of this study is Arvada, where home values have risen 46.18% over the four-year period from 2015 to 2019 – the 25th-highest jump in the study and third-highest in the top 10. While Arvada doesn’t fare as well in terms of commute, coming in 155th out of 227 with an average commute time of 29 minutes, the city’s unemployment rate in July 2020 was a relatively low 7.2%, ranking 32nd out of 227.

7. Hillsboro, OR

Hillsboro, Oregon has the 17th-best Gini coefficient in this study, indicating relatively low levels of inequality. Hillsboro ranks within the top 50 of the study for median household income ($86,038) and the percentage of residents without health insurance (5.6%). It also ranks within the top 60, or roughly the top quartile of the study, for its relatively high 2015-2019 change in home value and its relatively low poverty rate.

8. Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara, California has a median household income of $147,507, the third-highest in the study and highest in the top 10. That said, it ranks near the bottom of the study for its relatively high median monthly housing costs, at $2,629. Home values have gone up quickly in Santa Clara, increasing by 47.65% over the past four years, the 18th-highest jump across all 227 the cities we analyzed. The city also ranks 10th out of 227 for its relatively low poverty rate and 14th of 227 for its relatively low percentage of residents without health insurance.

9. Round Rock, TX

Round Rock, Texas has the 15th-lowest July 2020 unemployment rate in the study, at 6.2%. It also has the 23rd-best Gini coefficient and the 20th-lowest poverty rate, at 6.0%. Round Rock does rank in the bottom half of the study for its fairly high percentage of residents who are without health insurance, at 10.4%, but it ranks within the top 50 of the total 227 cities for median household income ($86,145) and 2015-2019 change in home value (40.76%).

10. Sparks, NV

The final city in the top 10 is Sparks, Nevada, where home value increased by 44.85% from 2015 to 2019, the 30th-highest increase for this metric in the study. Sparks ranks 50th-best for its July 2020 unemployment rate overall, 8.1%. While Sparks ranks within the bottom half of the study for median monthly housing costs, which amount to $1,354, the city has a Gini coefficient of approximately 0.39, indicating relatively low income inequality.

Data and Methodology

To find the most livable mid-sized cities, SmartAsset first compiled a list of all the cities with at least 100,000 residents, excluding the 100 most populous cities. Note: Some cities that have appeared in past studies may not be in this year’s version because of shifting population totals. We compared all of the cities across the following eight metrics:

  • Gini coefficient. This is a statistical measurement of income inequality. A Gini coefficient of zero indicates total equality of wealth distribution, while a coefficient of one indicates total inequality of wealth distribution across groups. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
  • Median home value change. This is the percentage change in median home values from 2015 through 2019. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
  • Median monthly housing costs. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of residents below the poverty line. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Median household income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for July 2020.
  • Percentage of residents without health insurance. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average commute time. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in every metric. We then found each city’s average ranking, giving each metric an equal weighting. We used this average ranking to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100, and the city with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Managing Your Money

  • Seek professional financial advice. Regardless of where you live, if you want to make your money work harder for you, consider finding a financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
  • Look into the future of your mortgage payments. If you’re considering moving to one of these mid-sized cities, use SmartAsset’s mortgage calculator to see what you’ll be paying each month before your deal is even finalized.
  • Take every advantage that helps you save more towards retirement. Some people move to smaller cities to relax after they’ve retired. To make sure you’re able to afford that, start thinking about retirement early, and use a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan if that is available to you.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/jhorrocks

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance – 2021 Edition

Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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For most people, working is inevitable: You need a job to afford your lifestyle. The trick, of course, is to find a balance where you can earn the money you need without spending all of your time in the workplace. Some of that depends on what the work culture is like in your city, how much you need to earn to pay for housing and how long you have to spend getting to work. To that end, SmartAsset analyzed 100 of the biggest cities in the country to find the best cities for work-life balance for 2021.

To do so, we considered data on the following metrics: walk score; arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments; restaurants as a percentage of all establishments; housing costs as a percentage of income; average weeks worked per year; average hours worked per week; average commute time; percentage of workers with a commute longer than 60 minutes; October 2020 unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth study on the cities with the best work-life balance. Read the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • Big city commuting blues. On average in our study, just 7.2% of commuters spend more than 60 minutes getting to and from work. In the biggest U.S. cities, though, that number can be much higher. For instance, 15.7% of commuters have a commute of at least an hour in San Francisco. In Boston, that figure is 11.9%. The city where the most commuters spend at least an hour on the go? New York City, where relatively packed subways and busy streets mean 27.2% of commuters spend at least an hour on travel alone, leaving even less time for recreation. New York also has the longest 2019 average commute time, at 41.7 minutes.
  • Midwest consistency up top. Four Midwestern cities – Madison, Wisconsin; Lincoln, Nebraska; Omaha, Nebraska; and Columbus, Ohio – also made the top 10 in this study last year. Three of these cities – Madison, Lincoln and Omaha – excel because of their low unemployment rate, finishing in the top 10 this year. Columbus finishes a bit lower (20th) in that metric, but it does particularly well in terms of low housing costs as a percentage of income, ranking sixth.

1. Madison, WI

For the second year in a row, Madison, Wisconsin is the best city in America for work-life balance. Madison doesn’t lead in any categories, but it does finish in the top 10% of the study for six out of 10 metrics. This includes coming in second-lowest for average hours worked per week (36.4), third-lowest for October 2020 unemployment rate (3.9%) and sixth-highest for labor force participation rate (73.2%).

2. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia ranks in the top 10% of this study for two metrics: fourth-highest for restaurants as a percentage of all establishments (10.10%) and sixth-lowest for October 2020 unemployment rate (4.7%). The beach town also ranks in the top 20% of the study for two other metrics: 14th-best for labor force participation rate (71.9%) and 17th-best for arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments (1.88%).

3. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis is the first Minnesota city to make this list, and it does so on the back of finishing in the top five for two different metrics: third for a strong labor force participation rate (74.9%) and fifth for a low October 2020 unemployment rate (4.5%). Minneapolis also places 12th-best in terms of housing costs as a percentage of income at 29.43%.

4. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, Nebraska has the lowest October 2020 unemployment rate in the study, just 2.7%. Lincoln also finishes second for the best commute time, an average of just 18.4 minutes, and places sixth-lowest for the percentage of commuters with a commute of longer than 60 minutes, just 2.7%. Lincoln finishes near the bottom of the study, though, in terms of the average weeks worked per year, at 39.65.

5. Omaha, NE

Another Nebraska locale is next – Omaha. The unemployment rate there in October 2020 was 3.3%, the second-lowest in the study – giving the top two spots in that metric to Nebraskan cities. Omaha also places eighth-best in terms of average commute time. The average commuter in Omaha spends just 20.1 minutes in transit, a far cry from the traffic-packed streets of some bigger cities. Omaha residents do work much of the year, finishing in the bottom quartile with 38.47 weeks worked per year.

6. Arlington, VA

Arlington, Virginia is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and it has the highest labor force participation rate in this study, 78.0%. Arlington also ranks second-lowest in the study for housing costs as a percentage of income – housing costs make up just 26.14% of income on average. People do work a lot in the town, though. Arlington ranks dead last in both the metrics measuring how much people work – an average of 41.3 hours per week and 41.80 weeks per year.

7. St. Paul, MN

St. Paul, Minnesota joins its twin city, Minneapolis, on this list and ranks in the top 10% percent of this study for three different metrics:

  • Fourth for average hours worked per week (36.8).
  • Sixth for October 2020 unemployment rate (4.7%).
  • 10th for arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments (2.04%).

8. Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio comes in sixth for housing costs as a percentage of income, at 27.53%. That is the only metric for which Columbus places in the top 10, but it does finish 11th-best for labor force participation rate (72.4%) and 20th-best for October 2020 unemployment rate (5.4%). Columbus finishes in the bottom quartile of this study for the metric measuring how many weeks per year people work on average, at 38.16.

9. Durham, NC

In Durham, North Carolina, just 2.7% of workers have a commute of at least an hour, the sixth-lowest total for this metric in the study. The average commute in Durham is 22.6 minutes, the 25th-lowest time spent traveling to work that we observed overall. Durham is not a particularly walkable city, however, finishing in the bottom 10% of the study in terms of walk score.

10. Lexington-Fayette, KY

Lexington-Fayette is the final entry into our top 10, and it finishes in the top 15% for three metrics:

  • 14th for arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments (1.95%)
  • 14th for average commute time (21 minutes)
  • 15th for housing costs as a percentage of income (29.66%)

Lexington suffers when it comes to walkability, though, finishing in the bottom quartile of the study in terms of walk score.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for work-life balance, we compared 100 of the largest cities in America across the following metrics:

  • Walk score. Data comes from walkscore.com and is for 2020.
  • Concentration of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments. This is the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Concentration of restaurants. This is the number of restaurants as a percentage of all establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of income. This is the median housing costs as a percentage of income for full-time workers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average number of weeks worked per year. This is how many weeks per year local employees work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average number of hours worked per week. This is the average number of hours a worker works in a week. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average commute time. This is the average number of minutes it takes for a worker to commute to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of workers with a commute longer than 60 minutes. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for October 2020.
  • Labor force participation rate. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found the average ranking for each city. Walk score, concentration of arts and entertainment establishments, concentration of restaurants, housing costs as a percentage of income and labor force participation rate received a full weight. Weeks worked per year, hours worked per week, average commute time and percentage of workers with a commute of more than an hour each received a half weight. Unemployment rate received a double weight. We then ranked the cities based on this average. The top city received an index score of 100 and the bottom city received an index score of 0.

Tips for Finding a Healthy Financial Balance

  • It’s easier to find balance if you can find support first. Once you have money, making sure it works for you can help you tip the scales of work-life balance in favor of life. A financial advisor can help with that. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Budgeting is key. A budget can take care of your money decisions in advance and leave you with more time to actually enjoy life.
  • Save now if possible. When you retire, you’ll likely be hoping to really live life without worrying about work for the first time. Make sure you use a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k) if it is available to you, as that’s the best way to save for retirement and allow for travel and other leisure in your golden years.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/MundusImages

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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States Where Residents Most Rely on Credit – 2020 Edition

States Where Residents Most Rely on Credit – 2020 Edition

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Perhaps counterintuitively, consumer credit card debt has fallen since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Federal reserve data shows that the total amount of revolving consumer credit, which primarily consists of credit cards charges, fell below one trillion in April 2020 for the first time in close to two years. Data from Experian tells a similar story. Between the end of Q2 2019 and Q2 2020, the average credit card balance of borrowers fell by about 11% from $6,629 to $5,897.

Though average credit card debt is decreasing nationally, it remains high in some states and may increase during the holiday season. In this study, SmartAsset looked at states where residents tend to rely on credit the most. Using data from Experian and the Census Bureau, we ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on five metrics relating to credit card debt. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is the 2020 edition of our study on where residents most rely on credit. Read the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • Credit card debt is high in Southern states. Seven of the 10 states where residents rely most on credit are in the South: Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. In all seven states, average credit card debt exceeds $5,600 and makes up more than 10% of the median household income.
  • 13 states saw one-year increases in average credit card debt. Though Experian data shows that national average credit card debt fell by 11.04% over the past year, certain states still saw increases. Average credit card debt increased by more than 3% in two states – Idaho and North Dakota – and rose by 1% or more in six additional states – Oklahoma, Hawaii, Mississippi, West Virginia, South Dakota and Iowa.

1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma ranks as the state where residents most rely on credit. Experian data shows that though average credit card debt fell in many places between the end of the second quarter in 2019 and 2020, it rose by 2.00% in Oklahoma, from about $5,800 to almost $6,000. With that rise, we estimate average credit card debt for Oklahoma residents makes up 10.96% of the median household income – the fourth-highest percentage for this metric in our study.

2. Louisiana

Though average credit card debt in Louisiana ranks toward the middle of the study at 24th, it makes up the second-highest percentage of median household income, at 11.25%. Additionally, credit card debt may build up in Louisiana, as the state has relatively high poverty and unemployment rates. Data from the Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Louisiana also has the second-highest poverty rate (14.3%) and 15th-highest September 2020 unemployment rate overall (8.1%).

3. Alaska (tie)

Average credit card debt in Alaska fell by close to 5% over the past year, but it is still the highest in our study, at close to $7,700. Additionally, Alaska ranks in the worst half of the study for two other metrics, average credit card debt as a percentage of income and September 2020 unemployment rate. Average credit card debt makes up 10.15% of the median household income (the 10th-worst rate for this metric overall). In September of this year, unemployment stood at 7.2% (the 23rd-worst in the study).

3. Nevada (tie)

Nevada ranks in the bottom half of the study for all five metrics we considered. It has the 11th-highest average credit card debt, the 22nd-worst one-year change in average credit card debt and the 17th-highest average credit card debt as a percentage of median household income. Census Bureau data from 2019 shows that Nevada has the 20th-worst poverty rate of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, at 8.7%. Moreover, in September 2020, the unemployment rate (12.6%) was the second-highest in the country, behind only that of Hawaii.

3. Texas (tie)

Texas ties with Alaska and Nevada as the No. 3 state in the country where residents rely most on credit. Though average credit card debt in Texas fell by almost 5% over the past year, it remains elevated compared to other states. Experian data shows that at the end of the second quarter in 2020, average credit card debt was $6,423 – the seventh-highest of any state. Additionally, Texas’ poverty rate is the ninth-highest in the study, at 10.5%.

6. New Mexico

Credit card debt in New Mexico is high relative to average incomes. We found that average credit card debt as a percentage of the median household income was third-highest in our study, at 10.98%. New Mexico residents may also struggle with credit card debt more, as unemployment and poverty rates are high. In 2019, the unemployment rate was 9.4% (eighth-highest in the study) and in September 2020, the poverty rate was 13.7% (the third-worst in the country).

7. South Carolina

South Carolina actually has the lowest September 2020 unemployment rate (5.1%) of any of the 10 states where residents most rely on credit. However, the state ranks relatively poorly on the other four metrics we considered. It has the 18th-highest average credit card debt, 14th-worst one-year change in average credit card debt, eighth-highest average credit card debt as a percentage of income and 11th-highest poverty rate.

8. Alabama

Using Experian and Census Bureau data, we found that average credit card debt for Alabama residents makes up almost 11% of the state’s median household income. Additionally, Alabama has the sixth-highest 2019 poverty rate (11.2%) of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

9. Georgia

At the end of the second quarter of 2020, average credit card debt in Georgia stood at roughly $6,200. This debt may affect residents more in Georgia, as debt makes up more than 10% of the median household income in the state. In addition, almost 10% of individuals fall below the federal poverty line.

10. Florida

Florida has the 12th-highest average credit card debt (about $6,100) and ninth-highest average credit card debt as a percentage of median household income (10.31%). In September 2020, the unemployment rate in Florida was the 20th highest in the country, at 7.6%.

Data and Methodology

To determine the states where residents rely most on credit, we compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across five metrics:

  • Average credit card debt. Data comes from Experian and is for Q2 2020.
  • One-year change in average credit card debt. Data comes from Experian and is from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020.
  • Average credit card debt as a percentage of median household income. This is the average credit card debt (per borrower with credit card debt) divided by median household income. Data for average credit card debt comes from Experian and data on median household income comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • September 2020 unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Poverty rate. This is the percentage of the population below the federal poverty level. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each state in every metric, giving a double weight to both of the average credit card debt metrics, a single weight to the change in average credit card debt metric and a half weight to September 2020 unemployment rate and poverty rate. We then found each state’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The state with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The state with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Managing Credit Card Debt During the COVID-19 Downturn

  • Contact your credit card company. Many credit card companies are offering financial relief to their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that the best first steps in receiving relief are contacting your credit card company, telling them you’ve been affected and asking questions about the relief packages they offer.
  • Create a plan to pay it off. Credit card debt can be incredibly stressful, especially during a recession when jobs are less secure and employment opportunities are more limited. Our credit card calculator is here to help. By adding your credit card details, you can calculate the total interest and time it will take you to pay off your debt.
  • Consider a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money and get previous debt under control. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/bernie_photo

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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Most Fitness-Friendly Places for 2021

Most Fitness-Friendly Places for 2021 – SmartAsset

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Though the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in widespread fitness center closures, many Americans still want to stay as healthy as possible. Depending on the level of services and equipment required, staying active can affect people’s budgets in a variety of ways. For now, virtual exercise classes and home gyms are the route most people are taking. Eventually, though, gyms will reopen at full capacity, and everyone will be able to reestablish his or her normal workout routine. When that happens, some places will be more conducive to jumping into a full-on fitness frenzy, and SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find where they are.

To locate the most fitness-friendly places for 2021, we compared 301 metropolitan areas across the following metrics: percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments and the average wage of personal trainers. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s seventh annual study on the most fitness-friendly places in the U.S. Read the previous version here.

Key Findings

  • Western and Midwestern metro areas populate the top. For the second straight year, cities in the Midwest and West dominate the top 10 of this list. Six metro areas are in the West and three are in the Midwest. Western metro areas do well in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments – all rank within the top 8% of study for this metric – and they also rank within the top 14% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Only one metro area in the top 10 is not in either of these regions – Ithaca, New York.
  • Fitness-friendly cities are light on the drive-thrus. On average, across the 301 metro areas in our study, fast-food establishments represent 45% of all restaurants. Though fast food is popular, convenient and inexpensive, it tends to be relatively high in calories and low in nutritional value – making it tougher to be healthy if you eat a lot of it, regardless of your exercise levels. In the top 10 of this study, all but three metro areas have fewer than 40% of their restaurants serving fast food, so there is less temptation to go for an easy-but-unhealthy meal that can ruin all your hard work. The metro area with the lowest percentage of restaurants that are fast food is Wenatchee, Washington, where it is just 27%.

1. Missoula, MT

The Missoula, Montana metro area is the most fitness-friendly place in the U.S. for 2021. There are 131 fitness establishments – including places like gyms and sporting goods stores – per 10,000 total establishments in Missoula, the third-highest rate for this metric in the study. There are also plenty of fitness professionals living in Missoula, 59 per 10,000 workers, placing it sixth-best for this metric. Residents in Missoula also get plenty of exercise simply by walking or biking to work: 7.1% of residents choose to do so, the 17th-highest rate for this metric across the 301 areas we studied.

2. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN

The La Crosse, Wisconsin metro area, which also includes parts of Minnesota, has 130 fitness establishments for every 10,000 total establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric. The metro area finishes in the top quartile for three other metrics as well, ranking 28th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (with 42), 33rd for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (at 5.2%) and 64th for the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments (around 39%).

3. Bend, OR

The Bend, Oregon metro area cracks the top 10 for two of our metrics. It places fourth in terms of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers with 61, and seventh for fitness establishments per 10,0000 total establishments, at 116. Bend can be a bit pricey of a place to stay in shape, though. The average hourly wage of personal trainers is $18.72, placing Bend at 176th out of 301 for this metric.

4. Ann Arbor, MI

There are 67 fitness professionals per 10,000 workers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan metro area, the second-highest rate for this metric of the 301 metro areas we analyzed. For their commutes, 7.4% of residents walk or bike to work, the 15th-highest percentage in this study. There are also plenty of fitness establishments in the metro area if you prefer to work out in a dedicated space: At 112 per 10,000 residents, this is the 10th-highest rate of the 301 places we analyzed.

5. Bloomington, IN

Folks in the Bloomington, Indiana metro area might have more of an opportunity to get a workout in during their commute, with 8.0% of residents walking or biking to work, the eighth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Bloomington has two other metrics for which it finishes in the top fifth of the 301 metro areas of the study – fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments (ranking 48th-highest, with 93) and average wage of personal trainers (ranking 49th-lowest, which makes it cheaper for the consumer, at $14.53).

6. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

The metro area around Santa Cruz, California finishes ninth overall for its relatively low percentage of restaurants that specialize in fast food, at 33%. Santa Cruz also comes in 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. If you’re looking for help getting in shape, though, it’ll cost you. The average wage of a personal trainer in the area is a steep $20.59, ranking in the bottom third of this study.

7. Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff, Arizona has the third highest percentage of residents who walk or bike to work we saw in this study, at 11.5%. There are also 109 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, the 14th-highest rate we observed. Flagstaff is hurt, though, by its price: The average wage of a personal trainer in this metro area is $22.27, in the bottom sixth of this study.

8. Fort Collins, CO

Fort Collins is the first of two metro areas in Colorado to rank in the top 10 of this study, and it gets there on the strength of having 113 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, ranking ninth of 301 metro areas for this metric. It also scores in the top 15% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (5.2%) and fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (46).

9. Boulder, CO

Boulder is the second Colorado metro area in the top 10, and it has two metrics for which it finishes in the top 15 out of 301 in the study overall. It comes in 11th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, at 53, and 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. Its final ranking is dragged down a bit due to its bottom-10 finish for the average hourly wage for personal trainers, at a pricey $27.25. However, it still ranks in the top 20 of the study for fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, at 105.

10. Ithaca, NY

A whopping 14.5% of residents of Ithaca, New York walk or bike to work, the second-highest percentage in this study for this metric. Ithaca finishes eighth in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments with 114. It is very expensive to get help with fitness in Ithaca, though. The average hourly wage for a personal trainer is $29.30, finishing third-worst out of 301 metro areas in this study for its high cost.

Data and Methodology

To find the most fitness-friendly places in the country for 2021, we examined data for 301 metro areas across the following five metrics:

  • Percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Concentration of fitness professionals. This is the number of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers. Our list of fitness professionals includes dietitians and nutritionists, recreational therapists, athletic trainers as well as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2019.
  • Concentration of fitness establishments. This is the number of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments. Our list of fitness establishments includes sporting goods stores and fitness and recreational sports centers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
  • Concentration of fast-food restaurants. This is the percentage of restaurants that are limited-service establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
  • Average hourly wage of personal trainers. Given the limited availability of direct data about the cost to consumers for personal training services, this metric acts as a proxy to indicate the relative affordability of hiring a personal trainer in a given metro area. Data comes from the BLS and is for May 2019.

First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. Then we found each place’s average ranking, giving all metrics a full weight except for concentration of fast-food restaurants and average hourly wage of personal trainers, each of which received a half weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The metro area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, and the metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for a Fit and Financially Secure Life

  • Find the right financial fit. No matter what your fitness goals are, financially you want to make sure you are secure, and a financial advisor can help. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Consider the health of your budget. If you live somewhere where fitness is expensive, make a budget so that you can work the price into your monthly spending.
  • Making bigger money moves? If you’re considering moving to one of the places we listed above, use SmartAsset’s tool to find out how much house you can afford before you make the big move.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/PeopleImages

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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Hours of Work Needed to Pay Rent in the 25 Largest Cities – 2021 Edition

Hours of Work Needed to Pay Rent in the 25 Largest Cities – 2021 Edition

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According to the Census Bureau, almost 20 million renters allocate at least 30% of their household income towards rent, indicating that they are housing cost-burdened. This can be especially true in larger cities where the cost of living is higher. And if time is money, then many Americans will have to resort to working longer hours to make ends meet without having to use up any existing emergency funds.

In this study, SmartAsset measured the hours of work needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S. To determine our estimates, we considered data on the following metrics: average annual take-home pay, average hours worked per year and median monthly rent. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study on the hours of work needed to pay rent. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • 56.6 hours. The average number of work hours needed to pay rent across the largest 25 U.S. cities is 56.6. In the six cities at the top of our list, renters must work at least 6% longer to pay rent alone. It takes more than 60 hours of work in all six cities to cover average rental costs.
  • California cities stay at the very top, but Los Angeles drops for the first time in recent years. In every version of this study since 2018, the three cities where the average worker needs to work the most to pay rent have been as follows: San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, California – in that order. In this year’s study, however, San Diego jumps to the No. 2 spot and Los Angeles drops to No. 3.

 1. San Jose, CA

In San Jose, California, it takes more than 76 hours of work on average to pay median monthly rent, which is $2,223 or almost $26,700 per year. The median worker earns $41,419 after taxes, with an estimated hourly wage of about $29.

2. San Diego, CA

The average annual take-home pay in San Diego, California is $34,157, or an hourly wage of less than $25. According to our estimates, the average worker in this city would need to work almost 74 hours to be able to pay a month’s rent, which is $1,806.

 3. Los Angeles, CA

In Los Angeles, California, the average worker needs to clock almost 73 hours to cover median monthly rent, which is $1,554. The average number of hours worked in the city is about 38 hours per week, which means that it would take this person almost two weeks to cover that total amount of time. The average worker in Los Angeles earns $34,669 before taxes and takes home about $28,815 – or a little more than $21 per hour.

4. Boston, MA

In Boston, Massachusetts, the average worker earns $35,800 after taxes, or about $25 an hour. The median monthly rent in Boston is $1,735, which means residents there will have to work more than 69 hours to pay for a month’s rent. At an average of about 38 hours worked per week in Boston, it would take nearly 13 days for a worker to cover this amount.

5. New York, NY

New York City has the fifth-highest number of hours needed to pay rent across the 25 largest cities in this study. With a median monthly rent in the city of $1,483, a worker person would have to work 62.0 hours to cover rent. The average worker in New York earns $42,326 and takes home $32,608 after taxes, or $23.90 per hour.

6. San Francisco, CA

In San Francisco, California the median monthly rent is $1,959. This is the second-highest monthly rent amount across all 25 cities in our study, following only San Jose, California. The average worker in the city earns about $32 per hour, or $51,548 after taxes. This means that the worker would have to work 61.2 hours to cover rental costs. At an average of 40.2 hours worked per week in San Francisco, it would take this worker about a week and a half to do so.

7. Denver, CO

In order to cover the costs of the average rental apartment or home in Denver, Colorado, the average worker would need to work almost 60 hours. The median monthly rent in Denver is $1,433. The average worker in Denver earns $47,146 before taxes, with a take-home pay of $37,922 or $23.92 an hour.

8. Nashville, TN

The median monthly rent in Nashville, Tennessee is $1,191 or $14,292 per year. With the average worker there earning $31,889 after taxes or $20.77 per hour, it would take him or her approximately 57 hours of work to cover the cost of rent each month.

9. Austin, TX

The average worker in Austin, Texas earns $42,416 and takes home $35,739 or $23.34 per hour. Monthly rent costs in Austin reach $1,334 per month, or $16,008 per year. At that rate, it would take this worker more than 57 hours to cover rental costs.

10. Charlotte, NC

Median earnings for a worker in Charlotte, North Carolina are $38,528. This worker would take home $31,118 or $20.61 an hour. Charlotte has the lowest median monthly rent across the 10 cities on this list, at $1,174, resulting in a total annual rent of $14,088. To be able to pay for a month’s rent in Charlotte, the average worker would have to work 57 hours.

Data and Methodology

To find out how many hours of work are needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S., we looked at data on the following three metrics:

  • Average annual take-home pay. This is the average worker’s earnings after accounting for income taxes. To find out how much each worker would pay in income taxes, we ran median worker’s earnings data through our income tax calculator. We assumed the average worker would contribute nothing to an IRA or 401(k), take the standard deduction and file as a single filer. Earnings data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average hours worked per year. This is the number of weeks worked per year multiplied by the number of hours worked per week. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Median monthly rent. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we found the average hourly wage for each worker by dividing average annual take-home pay by average hours worked per year. Then we divided the monthly median monthly rent by the average hourly wage. This resulted in the average hours of work needed to pay a month’s rent. Finally, we ordered the cities from highest to lowest based on the average number of hours needed to pay rent.

Tips for Managing Your Savings

  • How much are you really taking home? When budgeting how much to allocate to needs, wants and savings, it’s important to know how much you’re actually starting with. Use SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator to find out your post-tax earnings.
  • Budgeting is key. If the cost of living in an area is high and moving is not an option, consider using our online budget tool to make sure your expenses are all covered.
  • 401(k) matching. Taking advantage of a 401(k) employer match program is an ideal way to build your retirement savings faster. When considering a new job always review the retirement plan offerings to be sure that it’s the right one for your needs.
  • Expert financial advice. You already work hard to make ends meet, so why put in any more hours than you need to in order to get expert help with your assets? Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/mphillips007

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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