The 3 Most Competitive Workforces in America (and How to Use Them)

by Michael Haberman on September 21, 2016 · 0 comments

What makes up a competitive workforce?

What makes up a competitive workforce?

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What makes up the DNA of a competitive workforce?

There are the tangible factors that are easily calculated — average salary, housing costs, dominant local industries — this is the “low hanging fruit” of what makes a city competitive in the workforce. And then there are the intangible factors — job satisfaction, work/life balance, measurement of happiness — that are still measurable in one way or another but much more qualitative than quantitative.

While the fluctuation of competitive workforces is very much organic, it’s up to HR professionals to stay ahead of trends and figure out how to use them, not control them. After all, the changes in the market are going to happen one way or another—it’s up to us to use what we can’t control to help a company either flourish or flounder.

If you live and work in one of these US cities — the most competitive workforces in America — here is what gives them the advantage and how you can make that advantage your own.

San Francisco

The Quantitative

Despite one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, San Francisco (along with San Jose) is the most competitive workforce in the United States. To combat the high living prices in the Bay Area, San Francisco and San Jose also offer the highest median salary of any major US city and report the highest job satisfaction in the country.

The Qualitative

Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are notorious for giving employees more amenities than a five-star hotel. When you have free meals, dry cleaning service, and nap rooms, it’s easy to enjoy a quality work/life balance. The Bay Area is also home to some of California’s best parks, art, and culture — simply adding to the list of love for the city.

What You Should Do

Tech startups in the valley are a dime a dozen, and the only way to compete with top companies is to offer the same in-office amenities. Along with a competitive salary, this will attract the new talent.

New York

The Quantitative

Across the country, New York also tops the list of competitive workforces but for very different reasons. It shares some of the same quantitative statistics as Northern California—high median salaries, good job satisfaction (but much less than SF/San Jose), along with high living expenses of course.

The Qualitative

If the tech startups of Silicon Valley are the young guns, then the established corporations of Manhattan are the prestigious veterans. Living and working in New York, especially for one of its more well-known institutions, carries clout that thousands of Americans are after. So while job satisfaction is higher in the Bay Area, the glamour of walking from your New York apartment to that job on Fifth Avenue is a very powerful prospect.

What You Should Do

Your company’s reputation as an establishment will play to your advantage when scouting for new talent. Anything you can do to play up the idea that is “living and working in New York” will only help when candidates consider New York against other cities.


The Quantitative

Austin is an up-and-comer in the tech space and has made serious strides in the last decade in both salary and job satisfaction. But it’s housing costs that really sit “Silicon Alley” apart from New York and San Francisco. Austin has, what feels like, pennies on the dollar when compared to the two larger cities.

The Qualitative

Austin is also making a name for culture and cool factor. It’s home to the ever-popular SXSW festival and carries a serious reputation as the up and coming city to start a business this decade.

What You Should Do

There is young talent out there looking to make a mark with something new—so long that it shows promise. Use Austin as proof that Texas is the new place to be for growing businesses in America.

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