Top 10 Cities Hiring in ‘21

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Nov 2, 2021

Nov 2, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

As America goes through a critical labor shortage, with firms reporting that they are struggling to find qualified workers, finding talent has never been more urgent. Not only is talent a major cost, but it can also determine a firm’s ability to develop innovative solutions and navigate through the competitive landscape and become a successful business. 

In this article, we will look at the 10 best cities where you can hire talent in 2021. Our analysis is based on the educational attainment of each city’s working-age population, as well as which cities are attracting college-educated workers and which cities are losing them. With skilled workers in such short supply, we recognize the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent.

Arlington, VA

Arlington consistently ranks among the most affluent, and educated cities in America. With a population of 236,842 people, it is the sixth-largest county in Virginia. Its deep talent pool, nurtured by a network of public high schools, eighteen campuses for private and public colleges and universities, has attracted Amazon. Amazon is building its second headquarters, Amazon HQ2, in the county.

The county is located within the Washington metropolitan area, which is the country’s most educated region with around 49% of those 25 years old and above, having at least a bachelor’s degree. The region produces the most computer science graduates of all the metropolitan areas in the country.

Madison, WI

Wisconsin’s capital is home to five public high schools, several private schools, and three public universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The city has the highest number of PhDs per capita, with 5.4% of the population holding a Ph.D. 53.7% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city’s talent pool is the foundation of the education sector and has also attracted biotech, high-tech, health, and advertising firms. Google and Microsoft have both located their main offices in the city, thanks to its talent pool.

Seattle, WA

The Emerald City has a population of over 1,375,760 people over the age of 25, with 46.6% of them having a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city has 26 public and private high schools, a public university, and various other higher education institutions. Many Fortune 500 companies, such as Amazon, Starbucks and Nordstrum, have their homes in the state, attracted by its deep talent pool. The city has the highest proportion of people with a college degree, of any major city in the country. It has a thriving tech startup community, which further reinforces the point that business is attracted there by its wealth of talent.

Washington, D.C. 

There are over 430,307 people aged 25 and older in the nation's capital, and 52.4% of them have a bachelor's degree or greater. Some of the nation’s greatest universities are found here, such as Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the American University. The city’s educational provisions make it one of the most affordable places for people to earn a college degree. It belongs to the same metropolitan region as Arlington and is filled with a diverse and deep pool of talented labor, with some 270,000 tech workers, and professionals in a variety of other sectors.

New York, NY

New York is one of the great cities of the world and one of the most densely populated on the planet, with a population in excess of 8.5 million people. A 2017 census found that New York had the largest number of tech workers in the country, with over 320,000 workers. The city also has the most diverse pool of workers in the country, which provide many great assets to the workforce. The city is also home to an army of media professionals, digital-media-related tech workers, and tech consultants. The city is home to SUNY, Columbia University, and New York University, among many other prestigious universities.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has well over 635,000 people aged 25 and older, 52.4% of whom have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Among major cities, San Francisco is behind only Seattle in terms of the proportion of people with a college degree. With eleven colleges and universities, among whom are the University of California, San Francisco, the city’s deep talent pool has made it the home of companies such as Wells Fargo, Twitter, Salesforce, and Square. These companies are attracted by the large pool of diverse, skilled labor.

Austin, TX

Texas’ capital is one of the most populous cities in America. It has a population of some 961,855 people, in which more than 43% of Austinites age 25 and over hold a bachelor's degree, with 16% having a graduate degree. The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship university of the University of Texas System. The city’s growing and diverse population have attracted a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Texas Instruments, with a number of start-ups and growth companies also setting up offices there such as Papaya Global, a global payroll firm headquartered in Israel which recently completed a $250M series D funding round.

Atlanta, GA

With a population of more than 498,700 people, Atlanta is the center of the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the country. It has one of the most diverse populations in the country, a crucial factor for innovation-focused businesses. Its more than thirty colleges and universities include the largest college grouping of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country. 45% of its population, aged 25 or older, have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to a national average of 28%. Its deep talent pool has made it the city with the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country. The city is the global headquarters of firms such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and UPS.

Durham, NC

Durham’s highly diverse population of over 283,500 people is one of the most educated in the country. Durham is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary Combined Statistical Area, which is commonly known as the Research Triangle and has a population of 2,079,687 This area is famed for its research universities, including Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Duke University’s research, medical, and teaching output is among the highest-ranked in the United States and the world. North Carolina Central University is the country’s highest-ranked public HBCU.

Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota’s most populous city has a population of 429,954 and is the heart of the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington MN-WI metropolitan area (population 3.6 million). The University of Minnesota dominates the collegiate scene. Families with an income of less than $50,000 can learn at the university free of charge from fall 2021. The university’s graduate school programs are exceptional, with health care management, nursing: midwifery, pharmacy, and clinical psychology being top 5 programs nationally. 45.8% of its population aged 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This rich and skilled labor force has attracted Fortune 500 companies such as Ameriprise Financial, Target, and U.S. Bancorp.