1. San Diego

Downtown San Diego sunset.  Southern California, USA.
Dancestrokes / Shutterstock
The San Diego skyline.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year-Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 47.10% (Rank: 151)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,424 (Rank: 84)
  • Net Population Change: 248,105 (Rank: 23)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.70% (Rank: 46)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 9,834 (Rank: 29)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.60% (Rank: 39)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.40% (Rank: 95)

2. Reno, Nevada

The famous (newer)
Hammon Photography / Shutterstock
A sign at the entrance to Reno.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 49.30% (Rank: 111)
  • Net Business Openings: 226 (Rank: 84)
  • Net Population Change: 44,325 (Rank: 75)
  • Percent Change in Income: 6.30% (Rank: 24)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 4,450 (Rank: 58)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.70% (Rank: 25)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -3.40% (Rank: 32)

3. Los Angeles

Aerial view of a Downtown Los Angeles at sunset
TierneyMJ / Shutterstock
Downtown Los Angeles at sunset.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 49.70% (Rank: 102)
  • Net Business Openings: 6,325 (Rank: 1)
  • Net Population Change: 462,540 (Rank: 8)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.40% (Rank: 65)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 29,524 (Rank: 7)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.20% (Rank: 85)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.10% (Rank: 144)

4. San Francisco

San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock
San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 46.70% (Rank: 159)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,931 (Rank: 15)
  • Net Population Change: 393,897 (Rank: 13)
  • Percent Change in Income: 7.30% (Rank: 7)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 17,421 (Rank: 18)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.40% (Rank: 54)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.00% (Rank: 156)

5. Miami

Miami, Florida skyline and bay at sunset seen through palm trees
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock
The Miami skyline.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 46.30% (Rank: 169)
  • Net Business Openings: 3,730 (Rank: 4)
  • Net Population Change: 632,488 (Rank: 5)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.20% (Rank: 82)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 19,553 (Rank: 13)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.20% (Rank: 72)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.50% (Rank: 86)

6. San Jose, California

San Jose skyline as seen from the nearby freeway, Silicon Valley, California
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock
San Jose as seen from the freeway.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 45.80% (Rank: 178)
  • Net Business Openings: 627 (Rank: 38)
  • Net Population Change: 162,170 (Rank: 28)
  • Percent Change in Income: 7.60% (Rank: 4)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 8,744 (Rank: 36)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -1.90% (Rank: 172)

7. Stockton, California

Waterfront Cityscape of All American City Award Recipient, Stockton, California, Reflected in River at Weber Point
Terrance Emerson / Shutterstock
The Stockton waterfront.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 44.90% (Rank: 198)
  • Net Business Openings: 189 (Rank: 95)
  • Net Population Change: 67,354 (Rank: 55)
  • Percent Change in Income: 6.10% (Rank: 28)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 3,280 (Rank: 75)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -3.90% (Rank: 22)

8. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA cityscape in the historic French Quarter.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The Charleston French Quarter.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 46.50% (Rank: 163)
  • Net Business Openings: 669 (Rank: 36)
  • Net Population Change: 123,004 (Rank: 35)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.50% (Rank: 182)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 7,002 (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.40% (Rank: 54)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -3.40% (Rank: 32)

9. Fresno, California

Downtown Fresno Skyline, California, USA, on a spring afternoon.
stellamc / Shutterstock
The downtown Fresno skyline.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 49.50% (Rank: 109)
  • Net Business Openings: 158 (Rank: 106)
  • Net Population Change: 63,904 (Rank: 57)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.70% (Rank: 144)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 2,929 (Rank: 87)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -4.40% (Rank: 11)

10. Orlando, Florida

Castle night time projection and fireworks show
MateusandOlivia / Shutterstock
Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World near Orlando.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 50.70% (Rank: 88)
  • Net Business Openings: 2,060 (Rank: 12)
  • Net Population Change: 438,560 (Rank: 10)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.20% (Rank: 243)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 28,882 (Rank: 8)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.00% (Rank: 108)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.50% (Rank: 89)

11. Portland, Oregon

Sunset over the iconic Portland, Oregon Old Town sign in downtown Portland, Oregon
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock
The landmark Portland sign.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 45.10% (Rank: 194)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,490 (Rank: 20)
  • Net Population Change: 252,814 (Rank: 22)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.50% (Rank: 59)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 14,180 (Rank: 23)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -1.70% (Rank: 209)

12. Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The downtown Atlanta skyline.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 42.40% (Rank: 259)
  • Net Business Openings: 3,029 (Rank: 6)
  • Net Population Change: 663,201 (Rank: 4)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.40% (Rank: 204)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 39,441 (Rank: 4)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.80% (Rank: 63)

13. Provo, Utah

Aerial drone images of Provo Utah, Utah Valley. Snow covered neighborhoods with snow capped mountains in the back ground
the roadtripjunkie / Shutterstock
Provo, Utah, and the nearby snowcapped mountains.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 59.30% (Rank: 35)
  • Net Business Openings: 382 (Rank: 53)
  • Net Population Change: 106,883 (Rank: 38)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.20% (Rank: 82)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 6,841 (Rank: 42)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.00% (Rank: 107)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -1.60% (Rank: 234)

14. Sacramento, California

Palm trees swaying and cars driving by the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, CA
castate / Shutterstock
The California Capitol in Sacramento.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 49.60% (Rank: 106)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,149 (Rank: 27)
  • Net Population Change: 196,059 (Rank: 26)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.20% (Rank: 243)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 7,873 (Rank: 37)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.10% (Rank: 92)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.80% (Rank: 63)

15. Riverside, California

Evening view of downtown Riverside, California, skyline.
MattGush / Shutterstock
Downtown Riverside in the evening.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 44.10% (Rank: 220)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,388 (Rank: 22)
  • Net Population Change: 397,395 (Rank: 12)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.30% (Rank: 223)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 14,809 (Rank: 21)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.50% (Rank: 41)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.90% (Rank: 62)

16. Austin, Texas

Austin Texas USA sunrise skyline cityscape
Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock
The Austin skyline at sunrise.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 50.00% (Rank: 98)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,881 (Rank: 17)
  • Net Population Change: 451,995 (Rank: 9)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.80% (Rank: 42)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 30,035 (Rank: 6)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.10% (Rank: 90)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -0.80% (Rank: 355)

17. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The iconic Forsyth Park Fountain in Savannah.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 45.10% (Rank: 194)
  • Net Business Openings: 144 (Rank: 111)
  • Net Population Change: 41,896 (Rank: 79)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.30% (Rank: 72)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 3,158 (Rank: 79)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.80% (Rank: 20)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.80% (Rank: 63)

18. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown city skyline.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The downtown skyline in Raleigh.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 45.70% (Rank: 181)
  • Net Business Openings: 922 (Rank: 30)
  • Net Population Change: 232,052 (Rank: 24)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.40% (Rank: 65)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 15,950 (Rank: 19)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.20% (Rank: 89)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -1.70% (Rank: 219)

19. Chicago

Classic Architecture in Chicago
FeyginFoto / Shutterstock
The landmark Chicago Theatre in Chicago.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 43.40% (Rank: 237)
  • Net Business Openings: 2,760 (Rank: 8)
  • Net Population Change: 37,177 (Rank: 86)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.30% (Rank: 72)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 17,681 (Rank: 16)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 0.90% (Rank: 127)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.40% (Rank: 95)

20. Seattle

Seattle city scape on nw year day at sunset,Washington,usa.
Checubus / Shutterstock
Seattle at sunset.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 41.50% (Rank: 276)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,713 (Rank: 18)
  • Net Population Change: 499,558 (Rank: 7)
  • Percent Change in Income: 6.70% (Rank: 14)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 28,186 (Rank: 9)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.20% (Rank: 72)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -1.50% (Rank: 247)

21. Charlotte, North Carolina

Drone Aerial of Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, NC, USA Skyline.
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock
Downtown Charlotte.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 44.20% (Rank: 216)
  • Net Business Openings: 1,674 (Rank: 19)
  • Net Population Change: 352,216 (Rank: 17)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.30% (Rank: 223)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 26,209 (Rank: 10)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.40% (Rank: 54)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.30% (Rank: 109)

22. Santa Rosa, California

Vineyard outside Santa Rosa California
Bob C / Shutterstock
A vineyard outside Santa Rosa, California.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 51.10% (Rank: 86)
  • Net Business Openings: 112 (Rank: 129)
  • Net Population Change: 16,074 (Rank: 166)
  • Percent Change in Income: 7.20% (Rank: 9)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 3,279 (Rank: 76)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.20% (Rank: 72)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.20% (Rank: 121)

23. St. George, Utah

Woman atop the Sugarloaf rock formation overlooking St George, Utah.
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock
A woman gets a view of St. George from atop the Sugarloaf rock formation.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 53.20% (Rank: 65)
  • Net Business Openings: 190 (Rank: 94)
  • Net Population Change: 33,585 (Rank: 97)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.50% (Rank: 59)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 2,889 (Rank: 88)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.10% (Rank: 92)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.00% (Rank: 167)

24. Cape Coral, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida. View from beach on Cape Coral.
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock
View of Cape Coral from the beach.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 40.30% (Rank: 302)
  • Net Business Openings: 574 (Rank: 39)
  • Net Population Change: 135,856 (Rank: 31)
  • Percent Change in Income: 4.90% (Rank: 114)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 9,721 (Rank: 30)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 1.40% (Rank: 54)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: -2.40% (Rank: 95)

25. Boston

Boston, Massachusetts, USA skyline over Boston Common.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The Boston skyline over Boston Common.

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: 43.10% (Rank: 244)
  • Net Business Openings: 2,301 (Rank: 10)
  • Net Population Change: 322,792 (Rank: 18)
  • Percent Change in Income: 5.20% (Rank: 82)
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: 14,183 (Rank: 22)
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: 0.90% (Rank: 141)
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: –2.00% (Rank: 156)

Complete Rankings —————--

Methodology

The data utilized to develop this report came from two data sources: the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every data point other than unemployment rate statistics came from the former, while that one came from the latter.

In total, 380 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States had data for each data point and were analyzed for the report’s rankings. For two data points, the percent change in the employment-to-population ratio and the percent change in unemployment rate, multiple years had to be individually pulled to complete the final calculation that was used in this report. Almost all of the data that came from the U.S. Census Bureau was pulled from the American Community Survey.

The following data points were used to evaluate each city:

  • Percentage of 18-24 Year Old Population With At Least an Associate’s Degree: The percentage of a city’s 18 to 24 year-old population that holds at least an Associate’s Degree (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “% of Pop. 18-24 Yrs. W/ Min, of Assoc. Degree”).
  • Net Business Openings: The net amount of businesses that have opened in each city from 2015 to 2016. Closed businesses were subtracted from opened businesses during that time (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “Net Business Openings (’15-’16)”).
  • Net Population Change: The net population change in each city from 2010 to 2018. People leaving each city and mortality statistics were subtracted from people moving into each city and birth statistics during that time (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “Net Population Change (’10-’18)”).
  • Percent Change in Income: The percent change in average income in each city from 2017 to 2018 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “% Change in Income (’17-’18)”).
  • Number of Residential Building Permits: The number of residential building permits in each city in 2018 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “# of Res. Building Permits in 2018”).
  • Percent Change in Employment to Population Ratio: The percent change in the employment to population ratio in each city from 2015 to 2017 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau; seen in table as “% Change in Employment to Pop. Ratio (’15-’17)”).
  • Percent Change in Unemployment Rate: The percent change in the unemployment rate in each city form 2015 to 2019 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; seen in table as “% Change in Unemployment Rate (’15-’19)”).

To complete the rankings, each individual city was ranked among its peers for each individual data point. After that was completed, each city’s respective rankings for each of the six data points were averaged together to formulate an overall ranking for each city.

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