Best and worst cities to find STEM jobs in 2021

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WalletHub just released an in-depth analysis of 2021’s Best & Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals.

Seattle is the No. 1 Metro Area for STEM professionals, according to WalletHub.

Image: iStock/UlrichBeinert

Tech pros don’t have to chase jobs–they’re much in demand, but STEM professionals may be in the most demand. Those who want to live in one of the best markets, and are ready to move, have the choice of some of the most thriving cities in the US. STEM jobs are predicted to remain more resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic and those jobs will grow at a faster rate than other careers until at least 2029.  

With the current and continuing need, the median annual STEM wage of $86,980 is a worthy incentive too (compared to $38,160 for all non-STEM occupations). Jobs are expected to grow 3.4% between 2019 and 2029, but STEM jobs have an expected growth of 8%.

WalletHub, following up its 2021’s Best Cities for Jobs, has just released an in-depth analysis of 2021’s Best & Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals, as well as an accompanying video. Whether you’re just beginning your STEM career or are well into it, the data set ranges from per-capita job openings for STEM graduates to median wage growth for STEM workers.

The best and worst metro areas were derived from a comparison of the biggest metro areas across 20 key metrics which were “graded” on a 100-point scale. Metro Area refers to Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which WalletHub used to compare the 100 most populated across three dimensions, professional opportunities, STEM-friendliness, and quality of life.

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Best Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

1. Seattle, WA

2. Boston, MA

3. Atlanta, GA

4. Austin, TX

5. Minneapolis, MN

6. Pittsburgh, PA

7. Raleigh, NC

8. Salt Lake City, UT

9. San Francisco, CA

Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

91. Scranton, PA

92. Stockton, CA

93. Oxnard, CA

94. North Port, FL

95. Toledo, OH

96. Little Rock, AR

97. Cape Coral, FL

98. Memphis, TN

99. Deltona, FL

“The most important considerations when deciding which city is best for a STEM worker are professional opportunities and quality of life,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Some of the things you should look for include the number of job openings available for STEM graduates, the share of workforce in STEM, and employment growth in your area of expertise. The amount of money spent on research and development is also very important.

In terms of quality of life, it’s key to look for housing affordability, and opportunities for recreation and entertainment.”

The 20 relevant metrics started with professional opportunities: job openings for STEM grads per capita, share of job postings in tech, share of workforce in STEM, STEM employment growth, unemployment rate for adults with at least a B.A. degree, annual median wage for STEM workers, average monthly earnings for new employees in STEM industries, and median wage growth for STEM workers.

Secondly, STEM-friendliness was considered based on: Mathematics performance (standardized math test score of fourth and eighth graders), number of best engineering schools, quality of engineering universities, disparity of women vs. men in STEM occupations, disparity of women vs. men in STEM field of degree, research and development spending and intensity, invention patents per capita, and tech meetups per capita.

Lastly, WalletHub looked at the quality of life in the MSAs: Housing affordability, recreation friendliness, family friendliness, and singles-friendliness.

Best vs. worst, a closer look

Harrisburg has the most per-capita overall STEM job openings for STEM graduates, 23.7 times higher than in Deltona, FL, the metro area with the fewest.

Silicon Valley hub San Jose has the highest average monthly earnings for new employees in STEM industries at $12,684, 2.9 times higher than in Little Rock, the metro area with the lowest at $4,349.

San Jose also has the highest share of all workers in STEM occupations, 14 times higher than in McAllen, TX, the metro area with the lowest.

Albuquerque has the highest median annual wage for STEM workers (adjusted by cost of living), $99,400–2.3 times higher than in Honolulu, the metro area with the lowest at $42,367.  

Methodology: The data WalletHub used to create rankings were collected from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, National Center for Education Statistics, National Science Foundation, Council for Community and Economic Research, Indeed, U.S. News & World Report, Meetup and WalletHub research.

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