This City Is the Best Place to Work in the U.S.

The skyline of Seattle, the best place to work, according to the Robert Half Career City Index

Where is the best place to work? It’s an age-old question. Factors such as the employment outlook, average commute time, cost of groceries, diversity, weather and others form a complex mix that makes it difficult to clearly identify which city holds the most promise for career-minded professionals, and why.

But Robert Half has found the answer.

We commissioned a study with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of 25 major cities across the country, examining more than two dozen diverse factors that influence career choices. We grouped these factors into four categories — career prospects, quality of life, cost of living and cultural diversity — to evaluate each location. 

Here is the ranking of the best place to work in the U.S., according to the Robert Half Career City Index.

The best place to work: Seattle

Seattle’s robust economy helped propel it to the top spot in the Career City Index. Factors influencing Seattle’s strong showing include its first-place finish in the cost of living category and top 10 rankings in career prospects (second) and cultural diversity (ninth). 

Despite finishing 25th in the quality of life category — a ranking derived in large part due to low rental vacancy rates and the city’s lack of sunny days — Seattle’s surging career prospects moved it to the top overall spot. Seattle offers employment opportunities in technology, the aerospace industry, biotechnology, healthcare and manufacturing sectors. 

Companies that call the Seattle area home include Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon.

Boston is the second-best place to work

The No. 2 overall city, Boston, ranked impressively in career prospects (fourth), quality of life (second) and cultural diversity (seventh). Boston placed slightly below the midpoint when it comes to cost of living (15th), but it came in first among the cities surveyed for lowest average cost for groceries, one of the criteria used to calculate the cost of living rankings.

The Boston area is widely recognized for its financial, insurance and healthcare industries, and with the presence of world-renowned universities such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College, the city boasts one of the most educated workforces in the country. 

The San Francisco Bay Area, third place

The San Francisco Bay Area is the third on the rankings of best place to work. It led all cities in the career prospects category and ranked third in cultural diversity. The Bay Area received low ratings in the cost of living (23rd) and quality of life (18th) categories, which prevented it from overtaking Boston and Seattle in the Career City Index. 

Given that Silicon Valley is within commuting distance of San Francisco, IT behemoths Google, Facebook, Apple and Oracle — among others — and innovative startups make the region an attractive destination for all manner of job seekers. 

Do you know what makes the top cities the best places to live and work? Take our quiz to find out.


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A look at the overall rankings of the best places to work in the U.S.

  1. Seattle
  2. Boston
  3. San Francisco Bay Area
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Raleigh
  6. Dallas
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Denver
  9. Houston
  10. Des Moines
  11. San Diego
  12. Phoenix
  13. New York
  14. Minneapolis
  15. Atlanta
  16. Charlotte
  17. Miami
  18. Chicago
  19. Indianapolis
  20. Cincinnati
  21. Sacramento
  22. Los Angeles
  23. Philadelphia
  24. Cleveland
  25. Detroit

View our SlideShare to learn about more cities that ranked highest in the career prospects category.


Other cities of note

With such a wide variety of urban centers featured in the Career City Index, there really is something for everyone depending on personal tastes, preferences and career goals. Here are some highlights from a few other cities that placed among the top 10 in the best-place-to-work list:

  • Raleigh (No. 5) — This North Carolina city has been one of the fastest growing in the nation over the past quarter century, with its population nearly doubling since 1990. Raleigh is located in the famed “Research Triangle” of North Carolina, named for the three major research institutions in the area: Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among its Southern counterparts, Raleigh ranks the highest in the Career City Index.
  • Denver (No. 8) — The Mile-High City boasts a low unemployment rate (ranked sixth), a strong employment outlook (ranked fifth) and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. The largest city in Colorado, Denver is well-positioned to attract new graduates and others looking to make a career move. The Denver airport is strategically located for domestic and international flights. Denver is one of four cities in the West that appear among the top 10 in the best-place-to-work rankings.
  • Des Moines (No. 10) — This city in Iowa is an economic powerhouse, with one of the world’s largest concentrations of insurance companies. It’s also a hub for publishing, agribusiness and finance. Additionally, Des Moines is an important city in U.S. politics, with the Iowa caucus being the first electoral event in which candidates can win delegates for their party’s nominating convention. Des Moines has the distinction of being the only Midwestern city in the overall top 10.

The Robert Half Career City Index can be a particularly useful resource for new graduates or those early in their careers, as well as families that are faced with the choice of relocating for work. Download your free copy today for help determining the best place to work for you.


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