Even as the national unemployment rate is now down to 4.2 percent, Santa Clarita ranks No. 182 – dead last – among the best cities in which to launch a post-college career, according to a new survey by WalletHub.
The Washington, D.C.-based credit services company compared the relative market strength and overall livability of more than 180 U.S. cities to help recent college graduates find the best cradles for their budding careers.
The survey’s Top 10 cities were Salt Lake City; Orlando; Atlanta; Charleston, South Carolina; Tempe, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Columbia, South Carolina; Denver; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The bottom 10 were Detroit, North Las Vegas; Jackson, Mississippi; Newport News, Virginia; Montgomery, Alabama; Newark; Hialeah, Florida; Oxnard, California; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Santa Clarita.
WalletHub commissioned five experts to examine each of the cities based on 27 key metrics that range from the availability of entry-level jobs to monthly average salary to workforce diversity.
The experts compared the 182 cities, which include the 150 most populated U.S. cities plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state, across two key dimensions: professional opportunities and quality of life.
Then the experts evaluated the two dimensions using 27 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for job-market entrants.
Finally, the experts determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the sample.
Santa Clarita’s total score was 34.08, and the city ranked ranking at No. 181 for professional opportunities and No. 169 for quality of life.
By comparison, Salt Lake City had a total score of 67.83, and ranked No. 3 for professional opportunities and No. 1 for quality of life.
The sample considered only city-limits proper in each case and excluded the surrounding metro area.
The experts were Nick Praedin, Associate Director, Experiential Education, Rossin College Liaison, The Center for Career & Professional Development, Lehigh University; James R. Lowe, Assistant Vice Provost, Executive Director, Office of the Provost, University of Connecticut; Steven C. Hine, Research Director, Ph.D., Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; and Ronald E. Miller, Jr., Director of Career Development, Center for Academic Success and Advisement – Academic Affairs, Francis Marion University.
Their sources included data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sharecare, Indeed.com, Glassdoor, Eventbrite, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Equality of Opportunity Project, Council for Community & Economic Research, United States Conference of Mayors, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Center for Neighborhood Technology and WalletHub research.
To see the list and ranking of all 182 cities, click here.
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Carrie Luhan, public information officer for the city of Santa Clarita, noted that several previous WalletHub surveys have placed Santa Clarita higher in its rankings.
SCVNews.com spoke with Troy Hooper, Chairman of the Board of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and principal of Kiwi Hospitality Partners, on Monday about his reaction to the WalletHub survey.
I looked at (the study) closely, and had a few thoughts. Overall, (considering) Santa Clarita’s size compared to most of the cities it’s compared to, I think if they were to index it to population size, we would rank very, very high.
Tampa’s a lot bigger, for instance. It’s a small geographic city, quite dense. Obviously, Miami and these other huge cities are well-established. The first 10 included a lot of high-growth cities. So I think you take this with a grain of salt.
If you look at Santa Clarita and the positives of our city, we are trying to build a city that reduces or eliminates a commute to L.A. or Burbank. We have some of the higher median-income jobs for people in their 30s. There’s a lot of really great stories in there, but to compare us to every city in America, sure – we’re pretty small by comparison.
Troy Hooper, Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board
One of the metrics was the availability of high-paying jobs, and availability of a qualified or skilled workforce for those jobs. It’s really about trying to match them up.
Santa Clarita does not have a large unemployment base. It does not have a large skilled workforce waiting for opportunities. It’s very specialized in the industries we’ve attracted and that we’re growing in.
The tech sector is obviously the biggest upside in Santa Clarita. We are fighting hard, both at the Chamber and in our partnership with the (SCV) Economic Development Corporation, to bring larger capacity broadband to be more attractive to tech companies. Those employers provide more quality jobs to a younger workforce.
As an example, Scorpion: I think it’s 100 or 150 skilled workers trained at COC for Scorpion. The (employment) door is open there. As many as can be provided right now, they’re in need of.
If we have a handful of Scorpions – eight, 10, 12 – in our valley to provide jobs interesting to 20-somethings and Millennials, and College of the Canyons can provide the training we need to build a skilled workforce, then an entry-level job will be a much higher-paying job in that sector. I think the valley’s headed in the right direction in that regard.
But the (WalletHub) study basically lends itself to larger, older communities with larger companies that have built-in internship or job management trainee programs that bring people in at higher levels and (pay) rates, a little bit more like a military academy sends out officers.
Our city’s a little small for that. There’s a limited number of very large, high-paying businesses in the SCV, about 30, and they’re well-employed. Those employees certainly aren’t giving up those jobs readily, because they can not only stay in the valley, make good money and have great affordability, but also have opportunities to grow within their companies. That’s why you don’t see a high turnover in those positions.
The EDC is very actively working to bring more large companies to the Santa Clarita Valley. They’re the leader in that. (The Chamber) is just an adjunct, a supporter of those efforts. They’re truly the salespeople for the valley when it comes to corporate, and developing new business.
Logix, obviously, is the next big opportunity (the bank is moving its headquarters to Valencia). A significant volume of that workforce has indicated they will not be relocating to the Santa Clarita Valley, so I think Logix is going to move in with a pretty big void to fill. We should be working hard internally to be ready to fill that void with skilled local people.
Jobs in the financial sector can be very stable, and have longevity, and have lots of opportunities for advancement. We definitely need to continue to work toward bringing more organizations like those to the valley.