Where Americans Are Most and Least Financially Literate – 2021 Edition

Where Americans Are Most and Least Financially Literate – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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Individuals with higher levels of financial literacy tend to adhere to better financial practices – such as having an emergency fund and planning for retirement – and are also more likely to build wealth further by investing in the stock market. Many Americans, however, lack financial knowledge and do not follow financial best practices. Less than 50% of American adults have set aside three months’ worth of emergency funds, only 41% have tried to figure out retirement savings needs and just 32% have investments apart from retirement accounts.

In light of Financial Literacy Month this April, SmartAsset took a closer look at financial literacy in the U.S. In this study, we discuss the growing number of states with financial education standards along with how adults fare when asked a series of economics and personal finance quiz questions. Using data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation, the Council for Economic Education and Experian, we then identify the states where residents are most and least financially literate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our findings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • A mismatch exists between perceived and tested financial literacy. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation said in a recent national financial capability survey that roughly 71% of American adults believe they have a high level of financial literacy. However, when tested on personal finance topics, respondents struggle. On average, adults surveyed were able to answer only half of the literacy questions correctly.
  • Midwestern states perform well while Southern states fall behind. More than half of the 10 most financially literate states are in the Midwest: North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and Wisconsin. All of them rank in the top 10 states for our financial knowledge & education index. At the other end of the study, Southern states rank in the bottom 10: West Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee and Delaware. All of these except Tennessee rank in the bottom 20 states on our financial knowledge & education index.

Financial Education and Literacy in the U.S.

The number of states requiring that personal finance be included in their standards has grown substantially over the past two decades. According to data from the Council for Economic Education, only 21 states included personal finances in their K-12 standards in 1998, relative to 45 states in 2020. Notably, only some states additionally require that these standards be implemented by individual districts within the state. In 1998, 14 states required that personal finance K-12 standards be implemented, compared to 37 states in 2020.

Though the prevalence of financial education in the U.S. is growing, many adults struggle when asked to respond to questions covering fundamental concepts of economics and personal finance. The FINRA Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study asks respondents a series of six quiz questions, shown below. Multiple choice answers are shown below the questions. Correct answers are listed at the end of the study in the Data and Methodology section.

  • Mortgage Question: A 15-year mortgage typically requires higher monthly payments than a 30-year mortgage, but the total interest paid over the life of the loan will be less.
    a) True
    b) False
  • Interest Rate Question: Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
    a) More than $102
    b) Exactly $102
    c) Less than $102
  • Inflation Question: Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?
    a) More than today
    b) Exactly the same
    c) Less than today
  • Risk Question: Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.
    a) True
    b) False
  • Compound Interest in Debt Question: Suppose you owe $1,000 on a loan and the interest rate you are charged is 20% per year compounded annually. If you didn’t pay anything off, at this interest rate, how many years would it take for the amount you owe to double?
    a) Less than two years
    b) At least two years but less than five years
    c) At least five years but less than 10 years
    d) At least 10 years
  • Bond Price Question: If interest rates rise, what will typically happen to bond prices?
    a) They will rise
    b) They will fall
    c) They will stay the same
    d) There is no relationship between bond prices and the interest rate

On average, adults surveyed were able to answer only half (i.e. 3.0) of the above questions correctly. In fact, only 7% of adults were able to correctly answer all six questions. About 34% and 40% of surveyed adults were able to answer five and four questions, respectively. The compound interest in debt and bond price questions were the most difficult for respondents. Less than one in three respondents were able to correctly answer either question. Meanwhile, more than 70% of adults correctly answered both the mortgage and interest rate questions.

Notably, there are distinct differences in performance on the financial literacy quiz questions across different demographics according to education, income and race. The average number of correct quiz questions among individuals earning $75,000 or more and college graduates is 3.6 and 3.8, respectively. In contrast, individuals earning less than $25,000 and those with a high school education or less answered an average 2.2 and 2.3 questions correctly. The chart below breaks out survey respondents by race, showing the average number of correct answers for each group.

States Where Residents Are Most Financially Literate

North Dakota ranks as the state where residents are most financially literate, taking the top spot on our financial knowledge & education index and the third spot on our financial practices index. According to the Council for Economic Education, the state of North Dakota requires that personal finance coursework be integrated into another course in the K-12 curriculum. In 2018, residents correctly answered about 55% of the National Financial Capability quiz questions discussed previously – almost five percentage points higher than the national average.

Minnesota and New Hampshire follow closely behind North Dakota. Minnesota is the top-ranking state on our financial practices index and ranks fifth on our financial knowledge and education index. Minnesota residents have the highest average credit score (739) of any state and the eighth-highest percentage of adults who report paying their credit card bill in full monthly (58.04%).

Six of the remaining seven states where residents are most financially literate are located in the Midwest and West. They include Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and Wisconsin in the Midwest, plus Utah and Colorado in the West. All of these states require that personal finance be included in K-12 standards and survey adults rank within the top 12 of the study on FINRA’s financial literacy six-question quiz.

States Where Residents Are Least Financially Literate

West Virginia ranks as the state where residents are least financially literate, with the lowest financial knowledge & education index and third-lowest financial practices index. West Virginia ranks in the bottom five states for three of the seven individual metrics we considered: percentage of adults that believe they have a high level of financial knowledge (67.37%), average percentage of personal finance quiz questions answered correctly (46.79%) and percentage of adults with a three-month emergency fund (42.53%).

Like in West Virginia, Nevada residents fall particularly far behind on our financial knowledge and education index. Though the state includes personal finance in its K-12 standards, only about two in three adults believe they have a high level of financial knowledge, the ninth-lowest of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, the average percentage of correctly answered economics and personal finance quiz questions for Nevada is 49.14%, ranking within the bottom 15 of the study.

Across the eight other states where residents are least financially literate, three are not in the South: Indiana, Alaska and Pennsylvania. Of those three, Indiana ranks lowest for both the financial knowledge and education category as well as the financial practices category. Across the seven metrics, Indiana ranks in the bottom five states for its percentage of adults with a three-month emergency fund (44.05%) and percentage of adults paying their credit card bill in full monthly (49.82%).

Data and Methodology

To find the states where Americans are most and least financially literate, we examined data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia across two categories that include seven individual metrics:

  • Financial knowledge and education. For our financial knowledge and education index, we analyzed the state’s financial education score, percentage of adults that believe they have a high level of financial knowledge and percentage of correctly answered personal finance quiz questions. The state’s financial education score comes from the Council for Economic Education. Data for the other two metrics comes from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation’s 2018 National Financial Capability Study.
  • Financial practices. For our financial practices index, we analyzed average credit score, percentage of adults with a three-month emergency fund, percentage of adults paying their credit card bill in full monthly and percentage of adults regularly contributing to an IRA or 401(k). Average credit score figures come from Experian. Data for the other three metrics comes from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation’s 2018 National Financial Capability Study.

We created our final rankings by first ranking each state for each individual metric. Then we averaged the rankings across the two categories listed above. For each category, the state with the highest average ranking got a score of 100. The state with the lowest average got a score of 0. Finally, we created our final ranking by finding each state’s average score across the two categories.

The answers to the FINRA Foundation NFCS quiz questions are as follows:

  • Mortgage Question – a) True
  • Interest Rate Question – a) More than $102
  • Inflation Question – c) Less than today
  • Risk Question – b) False
  • Compound Interest in Debt Question – b) At least two years but less than five years
  • Bond Price Question – b) They will fall

Tips for Improving Your Finances

  • Take advantage of compound interest. One of the most important things to note about saving is that it helps to start early. Waiting to invest can potentially decrease your total return on a potential investment. Compound interest is interest that’s generated from existing earnings. In other words, when you put money into a savings account earlier, the interest compounds. As a result, you earn interest on the money you initially invested as well as the interest that money has already made. To see how this works, take a look at our investment calculator.
  • Some kind of retirement account is better than none. If a 401(k) is not available through your job, consider an IRA. 401(k)s are often valued more than IRAs since there is a possibility that your employer will match your contributions to the plan up to a certain percentage of your salary. This means that if you choose not to contribute, you are essentially leaving money on the table. However, if your employer does not offer a 401(k) plan, an IRA is another great option. In 2020, the IRA contribution limit is $6,000 for people under 50 and $7,000 for people age 50 and older.
  • Consider working with a financial advisor. Investing and planning for retirement are complicated and difficult tasks. A financial advisor could help you manage your money smartly. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that may be able to help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Damir Khabirov

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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Fastest-Growing and Fastest-Disappearing Jobs in Each State – 2021 Edition

Fastest-Growing and Fastest-Disappearing Jobs in Each State – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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It’s no secret that the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 14.7% in April 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak — up from a pre-pandemic rate of just 3.5% in February 2020. As the job market continues to rebound with the vaccine rollout and the recent wave of federal aid, which could help many Americans prepare for financial emergencies and boost their savings, Americans looking to be strategic about their job searches would do well to examine employment trends over the last few years to see where the most robust opportunities may exist. Given that some sectors have seen more expansion while others shrank — with varied changes depending on location — SmartAsset took a closer look at the fastest-growing jobs and the fastest-disappearing jobs in each state.

This is the fifth version of SmartAsset’s study of the fastest-growing jobs in each state. Check out the 2020 version here.

To do this, we looked at information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2016 and 2020 for all 50 states. It should be noted that the 2020 data only partially accounts for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as responses were collected from November 2019 to May 2020. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our analysis, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Education jobs are both increasing and disappearing, depending on location, but growth is more robust than decline. Jobs that fall within the broader category of education, training and library occupations comprise many of the fastest-growing and the fastest-disappearing jobs across the 50 states. These jobs are the fastest-disappearing job type in eight states and the fastest-growing job type in seven states. In the states where these are the fastest-disappearing jobs, they saw an average decline of 71.57% (with the steepest decrease at 82.61% for secondary school career/technical education teachers in Montana). In states where these are the fastest-growing jobs, they saw an average increase of 276.75% (with a high of 466.67% for postsecondary agricultural sciences teachers in Illinois).
  • Jobs are growing almost 4.5 times faster than they are shrinking. The average increase for the growing jobs in this study is 333.00%, while the average rate of shrinkage was only 74.89%.

The Fastest-Growing Jobs in Each State

Education is the leading industry for growing occupations nationwide (even though it is an industry that has seen steep decline in particular states). All told, seven states in this study have occupations in education at the top of their list. As an example, postsecondary nursing instructors make up the fastest-growing occupation in Alaska. In Nebraska, foreign language and literature teachers have grown faster than any other occupation, and in Oklahoma, archivists have outgrown all other jobs.

There are two different job types that are the fastest-growing occupations in multiple states. Bailiffs are the fastest-growing job in both Kansas and Maryland, while psychiatric technicians are the fastest-growing occupation in Nevada and New Jersey (as well as the District of Columbia).

The state with the top fastest-growing occupation is California, where the number of hoist and winch operators (who use these machines to lift and pull loads using power-operated cable equipment) has grown by more than 1,487%.

The Fastest-Disappearing Jobs in Each State

Office and administrative support occupations are the fastest-shrinking jobs in 10 different states. Some of the specific occupations that are shrinking include:

  • Meter readers for utilities in California
  • Word processors and typists in Delaware
  • Correspondence clerks in Florida
  • Proofreaders and copy markers in Washington
  • File clerks in New Hampshire

There are five other occupations which are the fastest-shrinking jobs in more than one state:

  • Photographic process workers and processing machine operators in Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania
  • Word processors and typists in Delaware, Missouri and Mississippi
  • Career/technical education teachers in Arizona and Montana
  • Bailiffs in Colorado and Utah
  • Library technicians in Vermont and Rhode Island

In Idaho, the number of demonstrators and product promoters has shrunk by more than 88%, the biggest drop in this study.

Data and Methodology

To find the fastest-growing and fastest-disappearing occupations for each state and the District of Columbia, we looked at employment data from 2016 and compared it to 2020. The 2020 data only accounts for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in part as responses were collected from November 2019 to May 2020. We filtered out any occupation for which the standard error for the estimated number of people employed in the occupation was greater than 20. We also filtered out any occupation with “other” in the title. To rank the occupations, we considered the percentage change in people employed in each occupation during this period.

All data, including earnings data, comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupation Employment Statistics.

Financial Planning Tips for Workers 

  • Need advice for a career change? If you are thinking about changing jobs, a financial advisor can help you manage multiple retirement accounts from different employers and create a financial plan to keep your retirement and investing goals on track. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be connected with  advisors get started now.
  • Taxes don’t have to be taxing. A career change may end up being what is best for some people. With that, you’ll likely have a new salary. See how much of it you can expect to give to the government using SmartAsset’s free tax calculator.
  • Use your budget to prepare for hard times. A budget can be a great tool for planning for unexpected expenses. You can use the budget to set up an emergency fund you can rely on if you lose your paycheck for a period of time.

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

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ablokhin

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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How COVID-19 Has Impacted Long-Term Job Growth – 2021 Study

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Long-Term Job Growth – 2021 Study – SmartAsset

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While many economists believe that the U.S. economy will return to pre-pandemic levels by late 2021, they are less confident that the job market will bounce back as quickly. According to February data from the National Association of Business Economics, 82% of economic forecasters surveyed expect real GDP to return to pre-COVID-19 recession levels sometime in 2021. By contrast, only 59% of respondents anticipate the total number of workers (excluding farm workers) will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 or later. As Americans scramble to boost their savings and map out their job prospects during the pandemic, SmartAsset analyzed data from 720 occupations to project the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the job market.

In this study, we use data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to examine the coronavirus pandemic’s long-term impact on specific occupations. The BLS annually publishes 10-year growth projections for all industries and jobs in the U.S. After publishing 2019-2029 projections in the fall of 2020 that did not capture the effects of the pandemic, the BLS issued alternate scenarios that model how jobs might be impacted if COVID-19 continues to have either a moderate impact on the economy, or a strong one. We compare pre-pandemic and strong pandemic impact projections to determine the jobs that could be affected most positively or negatively by COVID-19. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our findings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Almost three million less jobs. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BLS projected that six million jobs would be added to the U.S. economy from 2019 to 2029. In their revised strong pandemic impact scenario, less than 3.1 million jobs will be added over that time. With a total of about 163 million workers in 2019, the strong pandemic impact scenario represents an almost two percentage point drop in the preliminary 10-year employment growth projection, from 3.7% to 1.9%.
  • About four in five jobs may experience lower 10-year job growth due to COVID-19. Of the total 720 occupations we considered, strong pandemic impact projections are lower than pre-pandemic estimates for 560 of them, or about 78%. BLS data shows there is no difference between pre-pandemic and strong pandemic impact projections for 50 jobs (6.94%) and that 110 jobs (15.28%) may see increased growth than previously expected.
  • Restaurant, lounge, coffee shop and bar jobs face the most uncertainty. The BLS’ moderate impact scenario assumes that increased remote work is the primary change in the U.S. economy. However, its strong impact scenario accounts for more widespread and permanent changes to consumer and business behavior, whereby both consumers and businesses continue to limit human interaction. As a result, many of the occupations with the largest negative differences between pre-pandemic and strong pandemic impact projections are concentrated in service industries. The three jobs with the largest decreases in expected job growth are restaurant, lounge & coffee shop hosts and hostesses (8.2% to -18.0%); bartenders (5.9% to -13.8%) and waiters and waitresses (3.7% to -12.9%).

Jobs Most Likely to Be Positively Affected

Two occupations that focus on the research of diseases – epidemiologists and medical scientists – rank as the jobs most likely to be positively affected. Prior to COVID-19, the BLS predicted that over the next 10 years the occupations of epidemiologists and medical scientists would grow by 4.6% and 6.1%, respectively. But now the BLS predicts that they will grow by 31.0% and 28.9%, respectively, in the moderate pandemic impact scenario and by 31.2% and 30.7%, respectively, in the strong pandemic impact scenario.

Three other life, physical & social science occupations rank in the top 10 jobs most likely to be positively affected, reflecting the likelihood that more lab research will continue over the next decade. They are biochemists & biophysicists, microbiologists and biological technicians. Projections for all three jobs were more than four percentage points higher in the moderate pandemic impact scenario and more than five percentage points higher in the strong pandemic impact scenario than pre-pandemic projections.

The expansion of remote work will drive demand for information technology (IT) and computer-related occupations, particularly ones involved in IT security, as noted by the BLS. With the change in demand, the remaining five occupations in our top 10 are all computer & mathematical occupations:

  • Information security analysts
  • Web developers and digital interface designers
  • Network and computer systems administrators
  • Computer network architects
  • Database administrators and architects

Information security analysts handle IT for a variety of business and financial companies. Computer network architects design and build communication networks, while network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Jobs Most Likely to Be Negatively Affected

Job growth estimates dropped more than 10 percentage points for 12 jobs. Beyond the three service industry occupations listed above – restaurant, lounge & coffee shop hosts and hostesses; bartenders as well as waiters and waitresses – other jobs affected this drastically include receptionists, flight attendants and cashiers. Across all 12 jobs, flight attendants and restaurant cooks are the only two with expected positive job growth in the strong pandemic impact projections, despite the growth rate being lower than initially projected. Prior to COVID-19, the BLS predicted that over the next 10 years the occupations of flight attendants and restaurant cooks would grow by 17.3% and 23.1%, respectively. The BLS predicts that they will grow by 9.2% and 13.9%, respectively, in the moderate pandemic impact scenario and by 3.7% and 10.9%, respectively, in the strong pandemic impact scenario.

Notably, there are large differences between the moderate and strong pandemic impact scenarios for many of the jobs likely to be negatively affected. For example, in the strong pandemic impact scenario, the number of bartenders may decline by almost 14% from 2019 to 2029. By contrast, BLS projections show that the number of bartenders may only decline by 2.1% over the next 10 years in the moderate pandemic impact scenario. The table below shows the top 20 jobs most likely to be negatively affected by the continuation of COVID-19 and its economic effects.

Data and Methodology

Data for this report comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) employment projections. We considered initial 2019-2029 projections that do not account for COVID-19 along with two alternate scenarios: a moderate impact scenario and a strong impact scenario. The alternate scenarios identify occupations whose employment trajectories are subject to higher levels of uncertainty. The BLS does not intend them to be precise estimates of employment change over the projection period.

To rank the jobs most likely to be positively and negatively affected by COVID-19, we compared pre-COVID-19 pandemic and strong pandemic impact scenario projections for a total of 720 occupations. We calculated the percentage point difference between those two projections. A positive difference indicates that strong pandemic impact projections are higher than pre-COVID-19 pandemic projections and that those jobs are more likely to be positively affected. A negative difference indicates that strong pandemic impact projections are lower than pre-COVID-19 pandemic projections and that those jobs are more likely to be negatively affected. Though we did not use the moderate impact scenario numbers in ranking occupations, we used them qualitatively to evaluate less severe lasting effects of the pandemic on certain jobs.

Tips for Improving Your Savings in Preparation for a Financial Downturn

  • If possible, keep your budget top of mind. One of the best ways to save more, and bolster your emergency savings if you can, is through budgeting. Our budget calculator can help with this. Beyond looking at how much you spend each month and what six months of expenses would look like, you can see how cutting back on discretionary expenses can increase your savings rate.
  • Consider professional help. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money and navigate the current market. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with advisors, get started now.

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

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Blue Planet Studio

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 Small Cities in the U.S. – 2021 Edition

Most Livable Small Cities – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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Almost one in two Americans (48%, to be exact) prefer to live in a town or rural area, according to a 2020 Gallup survey – up from 39% in 2018. And while 27% still say that they want to live in a city, almost two-thirds of that group (16%) prefer a small city to a big one. The coronavirus crisis has also made places with low population densities more appealing, and small cities can offer the energy and creativity of urban life while boosting your savings in an affordable community. SmartAsset compared almost 300 cities with populations between 65,000 and 100,000 to identify and rank the most livable small cities in our 2021 study. 

We analyzed data from 291 cities across the following metrics: concentration of entertainment establishments, restaurants, bars and healthcare establishments, Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality), home affordability, housing costs as a percentage of median income, percentage of residents below the poverty line, 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 small cities. Read the 2020 study here.

Key Findings

  • Midwest ranks at the top. Eight out of the top 10 cities in this study are located in Midwestern states, with two in Missouri, two in Wisconsin, two in Indiana and two in Iowa. All eight of these cities rank within the top 70 (out of a total 291) for strong home affordability and within the top 60 of all cities for their low Dec. 2020 unemployment rate. The other two spots in the top 10 are claimed by cities in New York and Texas.
  • Unemployment tracks nationally. In December 2020, the national unemployment rate was 6.7%. That’s the exact same as the average unemployment rate in the small cities we analyzed for this survey, so living in a small city doesn’t appear to be a major factor when it comes to the availability of work. The lowest unemployment rate we found was 2.1% in Ames, Iowa.

1. O’Fallon, MO

Just over 30 miles away from St. Louis, O’Fallon, Missouri leads our study as the most livable small city in America. The city ranks 11th for low income inequality, with a Gini coefficient of 0.36. In addition, it ranks 30th for its relatively low proportion of residents living below the poverty line, at 4.0%. Median housing costs equal just 16.93% of median household income in O’Fallon, ranking 19th for that metric in the study overall.

2. Oshkosh, WI

Oshkosh, Wisconsin is located 75 miles from Milwaukee and ranks 15th in our study for home affordability with a 2.39 ratio of home value to household income. County-level data shows that Winnebago County, where Oshkosh is located, has the highest concentration in the study of bars compared to all establishments (2.63%) and ranks 20th for entertainment establishments compared to all establishments (2.46%).

3. Sioux City, IA

Sioux City, Iowa ranks 11th for home affordability with a 2.25 ratio of home value to household income. This city also has the 14th-lowest unemployment rate in our study, at 3.4% in December 2020. According to county-level data, it also has the 11th-highest concentration of bars (1.29%).

4. Flower Mound, TX

Only 1.9% of Flower Mound residents live beneath the poverty line, the third-lowest rate for this metric in our study. The county in which this Texan city is located has the 14th-highest concentration of restaurants, 9.07% of all establishments. Median housing costs equal 17.43% of median household income in Flower Mound, the 21st-lowest ranking for this metric.

5. Eau Claire, WI

Eau Claire, Wisconsin has the third-highest concentration of bars in our study, at 1.89% of all establishments at the county level, and the third-fastest commuting time with an average length of 15.1 minutes. Eau Claire also ranks 22nd out of 291 for its high number of healthcare establishments, at 14.08% of all establishments.

6. Lafayette, IN

Lafayette, Indiana has the 13th-highest concentration of restaurants, at 9.13% of all establishments at the county level. This city also ranks 15th for its high concentration of healthcare facilities, at 14.30% of all establishments. But 14.6% of the residents in Lafayette live below the poverty line, ranking 200th out of all 291 cities we analyzed.

7. St. Charles, MO

Median housing costs amount to 16.33% of median household income in St. Charles, Missouri, ranking 15th in the study. St Charles has the 39th-highest concentration of healthcare establishments at the county level (13.44%) and the 55th-lowest Dec. 2020 unemployment rate (4.7%) – both top quintile rankings.

8. Ankeny, IA

Median housing costs in Ankeny, Iowa equal 15.72% of median household income, the seventh-lowest rate for this metric in the study. This city ranks 14th for its relatively high concentration of bars, making up 1.04% of all establishments, according to county-level data. But ranks 215th for its concentration of restaurants, which account for only 6.72% of all establishments at the county level.

9. Fishers, IN

Median housing costs equal 15.39% of median household income in Fishers, Indiana, ranking fifth for this metric out of all 291 cities we studied. The city had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the study, with just 2.7% in Dec. 2020. And only 2.5% of its residents live below the poverty line, 11th-lowest in this study.

10. Cheektowaga, NY

Cheektowaga, New York has a 7.6% unemployment rate for Dec. 2020 (the highest rate for this metric in the top 10). Despite this, only 3.3% of residents are uninsured (29th-lowest rate for this metric out of 291). Cheektowaga also ranks 19th for home affordability, with a 2.43 ratio of home value to household income.

Data and Methodology

To find the most livable small cities in America, SmartAsset compared 287 cities with at least 65,000 people but fewer than 100,000 across the following 10 metrics:

  • Concentration of entertainment establishments. This is the number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments in a county. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Concentration of bars. This is the number of bars as a percentage of all establishments in a county. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Concentration of restaurants. This is the number of restaurants as a percentage of all establishments in a county. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Concentration of healthcare establishments. This is the number of healthcare and social assistance establishments as a percentage of all establishments in a county. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • 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.
  • Home affordability. This is the median home value divided by median household income. A lower ratio indicates that homes are more affordable and vice versa. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of household income. This is the median housing costs divided by median household income. Data comes from the 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.
  • Unemployment Rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for December 2020. This is measured at the county level.
  • Percentage of residents without health insurance. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Average commute time. This measures a worker’s average commute time in minutes. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. Next, we found each city’s average ranking, with each metric receiving an equal weight. We used this average ranking to create our final scores. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

It is important to note that our 2020 study on the most livable small cities in the U.S. did not include one of the metrics we used this year – the unemployment rate in each city. Due to the drastic changes in unemployment at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to exclude that metric from last year’s analysis. We added it back into the equation for this year and considered the most recently available figures from the BLS, measured at the county level.

Tips for Managing Your Finances No Matter Where You Live

  • Professional advice can help you make the right moves. Interested in moving to one of these cities? A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan to reach your goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with advisors that might be able to help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Forecast your mortgage costs. Buying a home is a serious proposition, and you need to make sure you are prepared. Use SmartAsset’s free mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payments could end up being.
  • Get a snapshot of your retirement timeline. For some people, work demands mean being in a big city for most of their career. In retirement, though, you may want to live a slower-paced life in a small city. Make sure you’re using a 401(k) or any other workplace retirement plan you have access to so that your retirement dreams can come true.

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

Photo Credit: © iStock/DenisTangneyJr

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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Fastest-Growing STEM Jobs in the U.S. – 2021 Edition

Fastest-Growing STEM Jobs in the U.S. – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented job losses across many industries and occupations. However, STEM jobs have been less affected generally. The 2020 unemployment rates for all three STEM occupational categories were more than three percentage points lower than the overall rate (8.1%). Specifically, the average 2020 unemployment rates for computer & mathematical occupations, architecture & engineering occupations and life, physical & social science occupations were just 3.4%, 3.6% and 4.3%, respectively. Keeping in mind that these industries could offer more opportunities to find jobs and save money, SmartAsset identified the fastest-growing STEM occupations in 2021.

In this study, we looked at how long-term STEM job growth may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and identified the fastest-growing STEM jobs in the U.S. We compared a total of 72 occupations across four metrics: percentage change in employment from 2015 to 2019, gross change in employment from 2015 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 the information together to create our findings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second annual study on the fastest-growing STEM jobs in the U.S. Check out the 2020 version here.

Key Findings

  • Jobs with a computer and mathematical focus rank best again. Last year, seven of the top 10 fastest-growing STEM jobs fell under the category of computer & mathematical occupations. The same is true this year. The seven top-ranking computer & mathematical occupations include: information security analysts, statisticians, computer user support specialists, computer & information research scientists, computer system analysts, operations research analysts and actuaries.
  • Medical scientists and epidemiologists take top spots. With the COVID-19 pandemic placing a renewed emphasis on the research of human diseases, two occupations that fall within the physical & social science category rank in our top 10. In projections not accounting for the COVID-19 pandemic, the BLS predicted the occupations of medical scientists and epidemiologists would grow by 6.1% and 4.6%, respectively, over the next 10 years. By contrast, projections accounting for COVID-19 and its effects predict the two occupations will grow by upwards of 28% and 31%.

How Will STEM Be Affected by COVID-19 Long-Term?

Annually, the BLS publishes 10-year growth projections for all jobs in the U.S. After publishing 2019-29 projections in the fall that did not capture the effects of the pandemic, the BLS recently issued alternate scenarios that model how jobs could change if COVID-19 continues to have either a strong impact on the economy or a moderate one. Projections from the BLS show that STEM jobs may actually grow more quickly over the next 10 years than previously projected. The chart below maps pre-pandemic, moderate pandemic impact and strong pandemic impact projections for the three occupational categories of STEM jobs.

According to pre-pandemic estimates, computer and mathematical occupations were expected to grow by 12.1%. In the BLS’ moderate and strong pandemic impact scenarios, computer and mathematical occupations are expected to grow by 15.4% and 16.1%, respectively. Similarly, life, physical & social science occupations are expected to grow by three percentage points more in both alternate scenarios compared to initial projections. The table below shows how percentage growth figures map to expected changes in number of workers.

Taking into account both moderate and strong pandemic impact scenarios, the BLS predicts that in total there will be close to 1 million more STEM jobs in 2029 than there were in 2019. For a comparison, the BLS previously projected that the number of STEM jobs would have increased by about 730,400 from 2019 to 2029.

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

Information security analyst jobs lead the pack as the fastest-growing STEM jobs, moving up from the No. 2 spot last year. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of information security analysts grew by almost 36,700 workers, or 41.28%. This is the third-highest growth in number of workers and percentage change across all 72 STEM jobs in our study. According to BLS projections, the occupation of information security analysts will expand by about 42% from 2019 to 2029 with the addition of 55,200 new workers – the highest rate and second-highest gross increase in our study.

Statisticians, computer user support specialists, computer & information research scientists, computer system analysts, operations research analysts and actuaries are the other six computer & mathematical occupations ranking in our top 10. From 2015 to 2019, statisticians had the greatest percentage growth out of the six (about 31%), while computer user support specialists had the largest gross increase (almost 62,300 workers). The BLS predicts that over the next 10 years, the occupation of computer support specialist will continue to overtake computer systems analyst. It is expected to add 58,500 workers, which is the greatest 10-year expected growth in number of workers overall.

Architecture and Engineering Occupations

Industrial engineers are the only architecture & engineering occupation in our top 10 fastest-growing STEM jobs. From 2015 to 2019, the occupation grew roughly 44,100 workers, or 17.83%. That gross four-year change is the second highest in our study. Looking forward, the BLS expects the occupation of industrial engineer to grow by 10.9% in its moderate pandemic impact scenario. This growth would mark the addition of 32,200 new workers – the sixth-highest 10-year increase in number of workers in the study.

Three other types of engineers – mechanical, electrical and civil – rank in our top 20. From 2015 to 2019, civil engineers were the fastest-growing occupation out of the three. The number of civil engineers in the U.S. grew by more than 35,600, or almost 13%, over that time. However, the BLS expects mechanical and electrical engineering occupations to be in higher demand than civil engineering occupations over the next 10 years. From 2019 to 2029, the number of mechanical and electrical engineering jobs is expected to jump by 13,000 and 9,400 respectively, which is much higher than the 3,900 jobs projected for civil engineers over that same time frame. In percentage terms, those increases mark a 4.1% and 4.9% growth in mechanical and electrical engineering jobs, respectively, but only a 1.2% jump in civil engineering jobs.

Life, Physical and Social Science Occupations

Last year, medical scientist (not including epidemiologists) was the highest-ranking life, physical & social science occupation, tying for 10th place with architect (which excludes landscape and naval). It ranks second this year, with the separate epidemiologist job also ranking in our top 10. Across the four metrics we considered, both medical scientists and epidemiologists rank particularly well for their 10-year expected percentage growth. In the moderate pandemic impact scenario, the BLS expects medical scientist jobs to grow by 28.9% and epidemiologist jobs to grow by 31.0%.

Our top 25 includes 10 other life, physical and social science occupations. Biological technicians and forensic science technicians rank best out of the 10. Both occupations rank in the top half for all four metrics we considered. The occupation of biological technicians ranks particularly well for its four-year growth in number of workers (6,630) and 10-year expected growth in number of workers (8,200). The forensic science technicians occupation ranks higher for the two percentage change metrics, with the 11th-highest four-year percentage employment change (17.41%) and the 10th-highest 10-year expected percentage employment growth (14.0%).

Data and Methodology

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations as including computer & mathematical, architecture & engineering, and life & physical science occupations, as well as managerial and postsecondary teaching occupations related to those functional areas and sales occupations requiring scientific or technical knowledge at the postsecondary level. For the purposes of this report, we considered only occupations falling under the first three categories.

To find which STEM jobs are growing the fastest, we compared 72 BLS-defined occupations across the following four metrics:

  • Four-year percentage change. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2015 to 2019.
  • Four-year growth in number of workers. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2015 to 2019.
  • 10-year expected percentage growth. Projections come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2019 to 2029. They account for a moderate pandemic impact.
  • 10-year expected growth in number of workers. Projections come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2019 to 2029. They account for a moderate pandemic impact.

Using the four metrics above, we ranked each occupation in every metric, giving all metrics an equal weighting. We then found each occupation’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The occupation with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The occupation with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Saving Tips for STEM Workers

  • Contribute to a 401(k) or IRA. One of the best ways to save is through a retirement savings account. 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. If your employer does not offer a 401(k) plan, an IRA is another great option.
  • 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 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/sanjeri

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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Cities With the Youngest Workforces – 2021 Edition

Cities With the Youngest Workforces – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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While Baby Boomers and Generation X are now the bosses at many companies, more than 25% of the workforce is younger than 30. This means that Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are emerging as the generations to soon comprise the largest percentage of workers.

Starting your career at a young age provides more time to build up your savings and create a retirement plan with a financial advisor. Some cities offer younger workers more opportunities for gainful employment and SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find out where younger employees make up the biggest percentage of the local workforce.

To do this, we studied data on the 100 largest cities in the U.S., analyzing the number of workers younger than the age of 30 as a percentage of total workers. 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 annual study on the cities with the youngest workforces. You can read our 2020 edition here.

Key Findings

  • Cities with youngest workforces dominate in education, healthcare and social assistance. More than 27% of workers in our top 10 cities have jobs in educational services, healthcare and social assistance. This means that across the top 10, these industries attract or have opportunities for almost six times more workers than construction, almost four times more than manufacturing, almost three times more than retail and almost four times more than finance and real estate. One notable exception is Norfolk, Virginia: The world’s biggest naval base employs almost 21% of the city’s workforce in the armed forces (compared to less than 19% in education, healthcare and social assistance).
  • Midsize cities attract the youngest workforces. Midsize cities beat out the biggest cities in the top 10 of this study. Even with an average 29-and-younger workforce of about 73,000 (compared to 368,000 across the largest 10 cities in the study), the cities in the top 10 have workforces comprised of about 36% younger workers. This average is only 28% across the largest 10 cities.

1. Norfolk, VA

With a workforce of almost 42% that is younger than 30, Norfolk, Virginia ranks at the top of our list. This city also has the fifth-highest workforce participation rate for younger workers in our study, at 80.4%. One of the major drivers behind the city’s employment of people in this age group is the naval base, which is the largest in the world. Our study reveals that almost 21% of all Norfolk workers are employed by the armed forces.

2. Madison, WI

Home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison has 38.93% of its workforce made up of people ages 16 to 29. The labor force participation rate for this age group is 74.8%, 25th-highest in our study. Education, healthcare and social assistance industries are the biggest employers in Madison, comprising 32.57% of the total workforce.

3. Lubbock, TX

Lubbock, Texas is yet another college town, the home of Texas Tech. People ages 16 to 29 make up 37.79% of the workforce in this city. But the workforce participation rate for this cohort is only 66.3%, ranking 80th out of 100 in our study. The relatively low figure for this metric could be impacted by the large university population, which, although eligible for the workforce, is largely unemployed during its student tenure.

4. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln is the home of the University of Nebraska. This city has a total of 166,354 workers, and 59,184 are younger than 30 – making up 35.58% of the workforce. Education, healthcare and social assistance are the biggest industries in the city, employing just over 27% of all workers. Retail is also a major industry in the city, hiring 10.85% of the workforce.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania used to be dominated by steel production. But now, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the major employer. In fact, education, healthcare and social assistance jobs make up 32.03% of the city’s workforce. And workers ages 16 to 29 make up 35.25% of the total workforce.

6. Tucson, AZ

Tucson, Arizona has 98,591 workers younger than 30, with a workforce participation rate of 69.2% for that age group. People ages 16 to 29 represent 35.22% of total workers in this city.

7. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts has the biggest workforce in the top 10 of this study, with 426,238 workers. And 149,695 of that force is younger than 30, meaning that 35.12% of the total workforce in Beantown is 16 to 29. Boston is another city where education, healthcare and assistance services dominate, employing 31.17% of the workforce.

8. Cincinnati, OH

Younger workers make up almost 35% of the total workforce in Cincinnati, Ohio. The number of workers ages 16 to 29 is 57,014, and their labor force participation rate is just over 70%. Education, healthcare and social assistance are the biggest industries, employing just over 27%. But manufacturing remains important in Cincinnati, accounting for 10.62% of the workforce.

9. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis has the seventh-highest labor force participation rate for workers younger than 30 in our study – almost 80%. Overall, younger people (ages 16 to 29) make up 34.87% of the workforce in the city. Almost 27% of those employed in Minneapolis work in education, healthcare and social assistance, with retail comprising more than 10%.

10. Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia claims the 10th spot on our list, with a labor force participation rate of just over 78% for people ages 16 to 29. This age group makes up more than 34% of the city’s total workforce. More than 24% of the city’s total workforce is employed by education, healthcare and social assistance.

Data and Methodology

To find the cities with the youngest workforces, we examined data on the 100 largest U.S. cities. Using population data and labor force participation rates from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey, we found the percentage of the workforce younger than the age of 30 (i.e. between 16 and 29 years old) in each city. Cities with the highest percentages of younger workers ranked at the top of the list, and those with the lowest percentages of younger workers ranked at the bottom of the list.

Tips for Managing Your Money at the Start of Your Career

  • It’s never too early to invest in expert advice. Even if you’re younger, it may make sense to find a financial advisor help with your money. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with advisors, get started now.
  • The key to retirement savings is to start as soon as possible. If you have access to a workplace retirement savings program like a 401(k), make sure you take advantage of it.
  • Double-check your paycheck. Knowing how much money you make after taxes is key to financial planning. Use SmartAsset’s free paycheck calculator to see what you’ll actually see on your check after everything is taken out.

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

Photo Credit: © iStock/fizkes

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 in Tech – 2021 Edition

Best Cities for Women in Tech – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that computer and information technology jobs are expected to have grown by 11% from 2019 to 2029, adding 531,200 new jobs in cloud computing, big data storage and collection and information security. The median annual wage for those jobs in May 2019 was $88,240, which is $48,430 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

But while tech jobs continue to outpace other occupations nationwide, women still face gender discrimination in the workplace. The BLS says that full-time women workers in all occupations earned $202 less per week than their male counterparts in the third quarter of 2020. This not only makes it harder for women to advance in their careers, but it also adversely affects their ability to save for retirement and cover many day-to-day expenses like food or housing. The employment landscape, however, continues to change. With that in mind, SmartAsset analyzed data to identify the best cities for women tech workers.

We compared 63 U.S. cities for which full data was available and ranked them according to the following metrics: gender pay gap in the tech industry, income after housing, women as a percentage of tech workers and three-year growth in tech employment. 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 best cities for women in tech. Check out the 2020 version here

Key Findings

  • Tech opportunities are moving outside of California. Silicon Valley is widely considered the premiere tech hub of America. However, our 2021 study shows that only two California cities rank in the top 15, and neither of those are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Women can seize tech opportunities in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Washington D.C.
  • Women in tech still face a relatively large pay gap. While tech is often considered a progressive industry, our study shows that women on average make 83 cents for every dollar that is earned by their male counterparts. The city with the worst pay gap is Salt Lake City, Utah where women make only 68% of what men get. By contrast, Long Beach, California is the only city in the study where women earn slightly more than men – making $1.01 for every dollar that their male tech peers get.

1. Arlington, VA

Arlington, Virginia is an “inside-the-beltway” suburb of Washington, D.C., and women make up 33.5% of their tech workforce, the sixth-largest on our list. Women tech workers in Arlington also have the eighth-largest income after housing, earning $64,620. Women in this city face the 12th-lowest pay gap in tech, earning 91 cents for every dollar that men make.

2. Washington, DC

Located just across the Potomac River from Arlington, the nation’s capital has a tech industry that is made up of 38.9% women workers, the second-largest percentage for this metric in our study. Women in Washington D.C. get 90 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers make, the 16th-lowest pay gap overall. Furthermore, they have the 12th-highest income, earning $61,083 after housing.

3. Baltimore, MD

Women in tech in Baltimore, Maryland face the second-smallest pay gap in the study, earning almost on par with their male counterparts – at 99 cents for every dollar that men make. The tech workforce in Baltimore is made up of 29.9% women, the 10th-largest overall, and they have the ninth-highest income – $63,203 after housing is deducted. Note, however, that the tech industry has grown only 15% in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, placing Baltimore in the bottom half of the study for this metric.

4. Durham, NC

Durham, North Carolina is the home of Duke University and part of the famed Research Triangle. Tech women in Durham earn 91 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers make, the 11th-smallest pay gap in our study. The Durham tech industry has grown 30% in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, the 12th-biggest increase overall for this metric. Women make up 28.6% of the city’s tech workforce, the 14th-largest in the study.

5. Chesapeake, VA

Chesapeake is located in southern Virginia. Women make up 37.4% of its tech workforce – the fourth-largest in our study. Women in this city make 91 cents for every dollar that their male tech peers get and have an income of $54,371 after housing. The Chesapeake tech industry has seen a 23% growth in the recent three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

6. Aurora, CO

Tech women in Aurora, Colorado get 97 cents for every dollar that men make, the third-smallest pay gap in our study. The tech industry in Aurora has grown 25% in three years, the 21st-biggest increase on our list. And women tech workers in this city earn $57,853 after housing, the 19th-biggest income across all 63 cities in the study.

7. Houston, TX

Women tech workers in Houston, Texas make 94 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers earn, the sixth-smallest pay gap in our study. The city’s tech workforce is made up of 27.2% women and has seen a 17% employment growth from 2016 to 2019. Women tech workers in Houston have an income of $61,016 after housing, the 13th-highest overall.

8. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio has the fourth-smallest gender pay gap in tech – our study shows that women earn 95 cents for every dollar that men get. Women in the Queen City make up 30.7% of the tech workforce, the seventh-largest for this metric overall. Their income after housing – at $48,886 – ranks in the bottom half of the study. But the industry itself has seen a 21% growth in employment the three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

9. Albuquerque, NM

Tech women in Albuquerque, New Mexico make about 95 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers earn, the fifth-smallest gender pay gap in our study. While women make up 30.6% of the city’s tech workforce, the eighth-largest in the study, Albuquerque’s tech industry has experienced relatively slow growth. It has seen only 13% growth from 2016 to 2019.

10. Jacksonville, FL

Women in Jacksonville, Florida make up 29.4% of the tech workforce, the 11th-largest in our study. For every dollar that men make, these Florida tech women earn 93 cents – the ninth-smallest gender pay gap overall. Jacksonville, however, finishes in the bottom half of this study with a slower tech industry growth of 17% from 2016 to 2019.

11. Long Beach, CA

Long Beach, California is the only city in the entire study where women in tech make more money than men. They reversed the gender pay gap by earning $1.01 for every dollar that men earn. The tech industry in this California city has seen steady three-year growth, ranking 14th out of 63 with a 27% increase from 2016 to 2019. Long Beach women make up 25.4% of the city’s tech workforce and have an income of $55,640 after housing.

12. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California may not stand out as an obvious destination for tech workers, but women make up 37.8% of its tech workforce, the third-largest in our study. That said, pay equity isn’t as high, as women in the industry earn only 88 cents for every dollar that men make. The Sacramento tech workforce has grown 32% in the three years from 2016 to 2019, the ninth-highest increase across all 63 cities in the study. Women tech workers in the city have an income of $46,289 after housing.

13. Philadelphia, PA

Women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania make up 28.5% of the city’s tech workforce, the 15th-largest rate for this metric in the study. Their income is $52,530 after housing, and they have the 13th-smallest pay gap overall, earning 91 cents for every dollar that their male peers make. The city’s tech workforce has seen a 23% increase in the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, ranking towards the middle of the study for this metric.

14. Chandler, AZ

While women in Chandler, Arizona make up 28.1% of the city’s tech workforce – the 18th-largest in the study – they rank towards the middle of the study for gender pay gap, earning 85 cents for every dollar that men make. Chandler’s tech industry has seen a 23% growth from 2016 to 2019. Women in the city have an income of $60,269 after housing.

15. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia rounds out the final place in our top 15. Tech employment has grown 33% over the three-year period from 2016 to 2019, the eighth-fastest in our study. Women in Atlanta tech earn 88 cents for every dollar that men make, placing it in about the top third of the study for that metric. Women in Atlanta make up 27.1% of the tech workforce and have an income of $52,594 after housing.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for women in tech, SmartAsset looked at data for cities that had at least 200,000 residents in 2019 according to Census Bureau data. We removed cities from our data set that did not have statistically reliable data (i.e. the margin of error for average earnings for women who work in tech or the number of women working in tech was greater than 20%). Those two constraints left us with 63 cities, which we compared across the following four metrics:

  • Gender pay gap in the tech industry. This is the average earnings for women who work in tech as a percentage of average earnings for men who work in tech. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Earnings after housing. These are the median earnings for women who work in tech after subtracting the median housing costs. Data on earnings comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 5-year American Community Survey. Data on housing costs comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce. This is the percentage of all tech jobs held by women. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Three-year tech employment growth. This is the percentage change in tech jobs from 2016 through 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2016 and 2019 5-year American Community Surveys.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found the average ranking, giving a double weight to the first three metrics and a single weight to the metric measuring job growth. We ranked the cities based on this average, giving the top city an index score of 100 and the bottom city an index score of 0.

Smart Money Moves for Tech Workers

  • Invest in expert advice. No matter your gender, consider finding a financial advisor to help manage 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.
  • Relocating for work? Build on a strong foundation. If you’re thinking of moving to one of these cities for a job, make sure you know how much house you can afford before you get started on your home search. This will help you tailor your hunt so you find the perfect home for you.
  • Make your workplace benefits work for you. Once you start, make sure to take advantage of your company’s 401(k) program, if offered. This is the easiest way to save for retirement.

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 Budget-Friendly Dating – 2021 Edition

Best Cities for Budget-Friendly Dating 2021 – SmartAsset

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Dating in the time of COVID-19 isn’t easy. The pandemic has impacted Americans and the economy unevenly. And cities have shutdown and reopened at different rates. So depending on where you live, it can be complicated for a couple to find a good restaurant, see a movie, visit a museum or enjoy any other romantic activity together. One small upside is that dates during COVID-19 may be cheaper than usual. Many COVID-friendly dates such as picnics and takeout are less expensive than typical activities, so wooers won’t have to dig as deep into their savings accounts to make Cupid strike.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, SmartAsset investigated the best U.S. cities for budget-friendly dating in 2021. We compared 96 cities across three categories and nine metrics. The categories include date affordability (cost of two cappuccinos, cost of takeout and a bottle of wine, average monthly internet cost), date access (coffee and snack shop density, restaurant density, percentage of households with internet access, percentage of city made up of parkland) and economic favorability (housing costs and unemployment rate). For more details on how we created this study, read the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • $40 night in. The average cost of takeout and a bottle of wine across the cities we studied was $40.44. Without the restaurant mark-up on that vino and all the streaming options available right in your living room, a dinner-and-a-movie date at home is easier on your wallet than a night on the town.
  • Romance is more affordable in the South and Midwest. Six of the top 10 cities in this study are located in the South, and three are in the Midwest. The Midwestern city Madison, Wisconsin ranks as the best city for budget-friendly dating in the country, while Texas is the southern state with the most cities in the top 10 – Plano, Irving and Austin. Ninth-ranked Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the only top 10 budget-friendly city outside the South and Midwest.

1. Madison, WI

Madison, Wisconsin is a college town with the most budget-friendly dating opportunities in the country. With relatively inexpensive internet, it is easy and affordable to connect with a date on a video call and stream a movie or binge a TV show together. Residents here average $56.99 in monthly internet costs, ranking ninth-best for this metric. If instead you prefer a casual date outside, two cappuccinos will cost you $7.78 on average, the 19th-cheapest amount on our list. Madison also had the third-lowest unemployment rate in November 2020, at 3.5%, so your date is likelier to have a stable budget for dating.

2. Arlington, VA

Arlington, Virginia ranks at the top of our study for economic favorability, which means that your date in this D.C. a suburb is likely employed and has a decent disposable income. In November 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.8%, the fourth-lowest in our study, and on average, residents pay only 26.14% of their income on housing costs, the second-lowest for this metric. Those looking to share a special meal with a significant other also have a vast variety of options: Arlington ranks 15th for the greatest density of restaurants, with almost 230 for every 100,000 residents in the city.

3. St. Petersburg, FL

Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, St. Petersburg claims third place in our study for the most budget-friendly dating city. The average cost of two cappuccinos is $6.64, the third-most affordable place on our list to go on a coffee date. A takeout date night here with a bottle of wine would cost $37 on average, and if you prefer to go on a romantic outdoor picnic, 15.63% of the city is reserved for parkland. Relative to other cities in our study, that is the 23rd-lowest average cost of takeout for two and a bottle of wine and 18th-highest percentage of the city that is parkland.

4. Plano, TX

Census data shows that more than 95% of households in Plano, Texas have interest access, the third-highest rate in our study. This may make it easier to speak with a date on a video call or enjoy a movie night together at home. Takeout for two with a bottle of wine costs $31.50 – sixth-lowest in our study – and a coffee date with two cappuccinos costs $7.48 – 14th-lowest overall.

5. Raleigh, NC

The average resident in Raleigh, North Carolina spends only 29.29% of income on housing, the 11th-lowest percentage in our study. The leaves plenty of disposal income for dating. The average cost of two cappuccinos is $8.58, and a takeout date with a bottle of wine will cost you $41.50 — 37th and 18th in this study, respectively. Speaking to your date on a video call and binging a TV show together can also be affordable, with monthly internet costing $57.05 – 10th-lowest across all 96 cities.

6. Cincinnati, OH

The average cost of monthly internet in Cincinnati, Ohio is an affordable $55.57, sixth-lowest in our study. And the price of ordering takeout for two with a bottle of wine is just $36, while a coffee date with two cappuccinos will run you $8.30. But if you prefer to go out on a romantic picnic, Cincinnati has the 26th-highest percentage of city area that is parkland, at 14.17%.

7. Irving, TX

Irving, another suburb of Dallas, ranks in the top 20 for all three date affordability metrics we considered. A coffee date here will cost you an average of $7 for two cappuccinos, the 4th lowest cost we found. If you prefer to watch a movie at home, your monthly internet service will cost $56.89 on average, ranking 8th. And if you want to treat yourself to a takeout date with a bottle of wine, it will average $35.99 — 17th in this study.

8. Austin, TX

Austin is the third Texan city to rank in the top 10 cities for budget-friendly dating. Your date here might spend only about 30% of income on housing, which means that that person will likely have more money to spend on dates with you. Austin has more than 27 coffee and snack shops for every 100,000 people – a top-25 rate – and a coffee date will run you $7.90 for two cappuccinos, 23rd-lowest overall.

9. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern city in our top 10. The odds of finding a solvent romantic partner in the Steel City are good: The average individual spends just 28.65% of income on housing. And dates that meet the parameters of the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic are affordable: The average cost of two cappuccinos is 13th-lowest in our study, at $7.46, and takeout for two with a bottle of wine is 29th-lowest, at $38.

10. St. Louis, MI

St. Louis, Missouri rounds out the top 10 in our study with the ninth-highest number of restaurants per 100,000 residents, at 246. Inviting your date for takeout with a bottle of wine will cost you roughly $33, ninth-cheapest in our study. And the average cost of monthly internet is $59.67 – the 16th-lowest across all 96 cities.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for budget-friendly dating in 2021, we compared 96 cities across the following categories and metrics:

Date Affordability 

  • Average cost of two cappuccinos. Data comes from Numbeo and was pulled in January 2021.
  • Average cost of takeout for two and a bottle of wine. Data comes from Numbeo and was pulled in January 2021.
  • Average monthly internet cost. Data comes from Numbeo and was pulled in January 2021.

Date Access 

  • Coffee and snack shops per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns Survey and is at the county level.
  • Restaurants per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns Survey and is at the county level.
  • Percentage of households with internet access. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of the city that is parkland. Data is from the 2020 Acreage & Park System Highlights from the Trust for Public Land.

Economic Favorability 

  • Housing costs as a percentage of income. This is median annual housing costs divided by median income for an individual. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • November 2020 unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

First, we ranked each city in each metric, assigning equal weight to each metric. Then we averaged the rankings across the three categories listed above. For each category, the city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0. We created our final ranking by calculating each city’s average score for all three categories.

Financial Tips for Couples

  • Whether you’re dating or married (or happily single), let us be your matchmaker for another important partnership. Making smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money is easier with a financial advisor. Finding the right one, though, is a lot easier than in dating. 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, get started now.
  • Try mapping out your date expenses. If you need to keep your dating affordable, SmartAsset’s budget tool will help you break down your monthly spending so you can set money aside for entertainment, including dates.
  • Thinking about moving in with someone? If you want to move in with someone that you are dating, our rent or buy calculator can help you figure out the best financial option for living together.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Hiraman

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 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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