Jefferson City has a few titles to brag about. It was recently voted the Most Beautiful City in America by Rand McNally, has been named one of the most inexpensive places to live, and is now a top contender for those seeking employment.
According to the Nerdwallet Finance study released last week, Jefferson City is ranked number 11 in the best job seeking cities in the state when considering cities with a population of more than 15,000. The study was based on three basic questions: Is the city growing? Can you afford to live in the city comfortably? Are most people employed?
Each city was measured by looking at population change from 2009 to 2012, the median household income, monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments and the unemployment rates from 2013. Out of 52 communities in Missouri assessed, Jefferson City came up just shy of the top ten.
"We are very excited to be in the list and I think the criteria used in the article are very good," said Interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert.
Jefferson City's unemployment rate, as of August 2013, was 4.8 percent. The median monthly homeowner costs are $1,113 and the median household income is $48,201. The working-age population change is 5.4 percent.
"I think we have always known that our low cost of living has been attractive to people, and our low unemployment demonstrates our local economy remains strong," Hilpert said, noting he does not discount the occasional major blows such as those suffered by the recent closing of R.R. Donnelley.
Hilpert said the City Council has in recent years focused on growing the community to attract job seekers.
Jefferson City and its economic development partners have focused on growing the city by encouraging an influx of young professionals.
"People want to live and work in a community that is attractive, comfortable and exciting to them. You can see the city's commitment to increasing "quality of place' by encouraging social connectivity through things like our festival districts and our focus on downtown," he said.
Hilpert said he thinks encouraging growth in retail, while consciously protecting the taxpayer dollar, has helped make the city attractive to young professionals.
"I think our elected officials know and are getting the word out that there is still room to grow and we have a great deal of untapped potential in our community as well," Hilpert said.
Jefferson City residents are "very intelligent, very loyal, and are a very diligent work force. I think employers are seeing that now and I think that is a good part of why Jefferson City really is a top city for job seekers."
Nearby Columbia ranked number 3 in the same study. Other cities included large St. Louis or Kansas City suburbs. Ranked in order from one to 10 were: Wentzville, Lee's Summit, Columbia, Wildwood, O'Fallon, Chesterfield, Ballwin, Grandview, Kirkwood and Maryland Heights.