The Grass May Be Greener a Thousand Miles Away

By Martin Brown

movingRecessions bring change. At times, that can be a good thing.

For single women, change can come in many forms. For the financial and banking sectors it has come in the form of new regulations on the way business is done. For the American auto industry it has revolutionized the possible future of manufacturing and perhaps in a decade American car makers will lead the world with the most fuel efficient, and most reliable cars. Or for GM and others, this upheaval may simply lead to their demise. In the housing and real estate investment sector, we’ll see business continuing to take a more cautious approach as the long road back to recovery still has two or perhaps more years to go.

For all of us personally recession can mean a variety of things. For some it simply means a bit of belt tightening. The discomfort of seeing your savings and pension plans take a significant dip. But for so many, who have been able to keep their employment, this could simply be a time to hold on and wait for better days.

Then there are others for whom the recession has hit much harder. Many of those individuals, millions indeed, have lost their jobs and are having little luck finding other positions. But here, as we see in other areas, recession can create career changing and perhaps life changing events.

In a survey recently issued by PayScale.com of the six best US cities for employment with a population of 200,000 or more, Boulder, Colorado led the way with a population of 290,000, a jobless rate of 5.8%, and major industries in high tech, biotech, and education.

Boulder was followed by Madison, Wisconsin, which has a population of 556,000, a jobless rate of 5.3%, and major employers in government, biotech, and education.

The third city on the list is the nation’s capitol, Washington DC, with a population of 5.3 million, a jobless rate of 5.5%, and major employers in government, defense and non-profit.

Next on the list is Salt Lake City, Utah with a population of 1.1 million, a low unemployment rate of 4.6%, and employers dominant in the areas of education, tourism, and transportation.

The fifth city is in the deep South, Lafayette, Louisiana, which has a population of 256,000, a jobless rate under 4%, and major industries in oil and gas. Finally, the sixth city, Huntsville, Alabama has a population of 387,000, a jobless rate of 6% and major employers in defense, aerospace, and telecom.

Obviously many of us are not able to relocate for a variety of reasons. A home that won’t sell, an older parent that needs close family support, or perhaps you’re a single mom who does not want to move a child, or children away from their school(s).

On the other hand, however, there are millions who can relocate and now is a very good time to remember that America has always been the land of opportunity because in part it is a place where people typically relocate to follow opportunity. Whether it’s the gold rush to San Francisco in the 1840s or people streaming out of the Midwest in the 1970s to take advantage of the oil boom in Houston.

Some of the employment numbers coming out of these cities and others are indeed impressive, especially when placed next to a national unemployment rate that now is just a fraction below 9%.

As a long time observer of shifting markets I will tell you that whenever you encounter a gloomy economic picture there is a good chance that somewhere else people are doing just fine. In comparing local economies there are times when the grass truly is greener on the other side of the nation.

If you’re ready to kick the downturn blues and the prospects in your town are just not improving, take a look beyond your borders. You might like what you see.

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