New study reveals the US cities and states where you have the best chance of landing a high-paying job

The competition for the best-paying jobs in the USA has always been intense. In this elite segment of the employment market, having outstanding qualifications, years of experience, and glowing references from a long list of extracurricular activities is the bare minimum.

And the competition is about to become even fiercer. Experts are predicting a more cautious and competitive labor market in 2024, as employers slow hiring ahead of a possible recession.

And this intense competition for the highest-paying jobs is the focus of the latest study from Its research team collected and analyzed tons of data from job adverts on LinkedIn. They then segmented the data by location, revealing the US cities and states where the highest-paying roles receive the most (and least) daily applications.

Here's a summary of their results.

The most competitive US cities for highly paid jobs kicked off the study by listing the top 20 most competitive US cities for jobs paying the big bucks.

All the familiar names made the list, including New York and San Francisco. However, neither of these major employment and talent hubs made it into the top 5.

Instead, the cities where it's super (super) hard to land a high-paying job are Kansas City, San Jose, Denver, and St. Louis. In each city, recruiters for the highest paying jobs receive over 25 CVs every single day. That's over 100 highly qualified and talented applicants applying for each role per week.

And there's even fiercer competition in Salt Lake City. As the most competitive city in the US for exclusive roles, it has a daily application rate of 34.9 per job.

But what's driving all this competition in Utah?

There are two main factors. The first is the city's thriving startup and tech industries, which attract the best corporate and graduate talent from across the US. The other is population growth. Salt Lake is the state capital of Utah, which has one of the fastest-growing populations in the country. So, the math is pretty simple: More people = more competition for jobs.

Every US state's most competitive city

Next up, the researchers turned their attention to finding the city with the most competitive job market in every single US state.

Anchorage in Alaska emerged as one of the most competitive cities in this part of the study, with 26.7 daily applications for every high-paying job.

How can a city in the middle of one of the USA's most remote and isolated states have such a competitive job market?

It all comes down to opportunity and high pay. The oil and gas industry is a cornerstone of Anchorage's economy. Jobs are dangerous, especially on the front line. But these jobs are always extremely well-paid, meaning many workers are willing to relocate to the city.

Miami is Florida's most competitive city. Although 'competitive' is a relative term. With less than 6 daily applications per high-paying job, it's one of the biggest US cities where competition for the best roles isn't super fierce.

Austin emerged as the most competitive city in the state of Texas. Is it any surprise? It seems like everyone (or at least a lot of people from California) is relocating to the Lone Star State. The city's population has been growing by between 3-5% year on year since 2019.

The least competitive US cities for the top jobs

There's a city in the study that averages out at 0 daily applications for high-paying jobs. It's Parkersburg, West Virginia. In this city, the best-paying jobs are there for the taking. With the right qualifications and experience, you're almost guaranteed to get a first interview.

But there are a few problems. Firstly, there aren't many high-paying jobs in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Secondly, they're concentrated in the farming and agriculture industry.

Nampa, Idaho, is another low-population density city where job competition is at the bottom end of the scale. It has a daily application rate of 0.001.

There are several other cities where companies receive less than 1 application per day for their most important roles. They include Laredo, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Every state's least competitive city

Want to increase your chance of landing a job with a big starting salary in the state of New York? If so, then stay well clear of New York City. Instead, think about making your fortune in Yonkers. Top jobs in this upstate city are 10x less competitive than those in New York. In fact, hiring managers in Yonkers receive less than 1 (0.8) daily application per high-paid job listing.

Paterson, over in neighboring New Jersey, is even less competitive, with just 0.03 CVs landing in the recruiter's email box every day.

We've already talked about Parkersburg, West Virginia. However, it's not the only city in the state with a 0 score. Bennington, which is the state of Vermont's least competitive city, is one of only the three cities with a bottomed-out score.

The other is Butte, Montana. Ironically, Butte is famous for being a city bursting with opportunity. Or at least in the old frontier days. Established in 1864 as a mining camp, Butte quickly developed into Montana's first major industrial city and one of the largest copper boom towns in the American West.

How times have changed. Like many rural cities, Butte is now struggling with serious economic challenges, including a reliance on traditional industries, depopulation, a lack of infrastructure, and difficulties attracting and retaining talent.

The most and least competitive states for high-salary jobs

The economic growth driving Salt Lake City is the main reason why Utah is the USA's most competitive state for exclusive jobs. On average, high-paying roles in The Beehive State receive over 22 applications every single day.

Competition is also high in Colorado (17 daily applications) and California (15 applications).

On the other end of the scale, several US states scored below 1 daily applicant. They include Wisconsin, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Idaho.

Maryland scored a little higher, with 1.3 applications per high-paying job. The state has made a real effort over the last few years to hold onto and attract the best candidates and increase the population. However, its proximity to Washington and New York, as well as rising crime rates in the major cities, means that the majority of candidates with the right skills and qualifications are deciding against building a career in Maryland.
Read next: Essential Soft Skills: What Today’s Highest Paying Employers are Really Looking For
Previous Post Next Post