BOSTON (MainStreet) -- If you're looking for a fresh start following a layoff, a divorce or other life-changing event, experts suggest that you go Midwest, young man -- or young woman, middle-aged man, etc."Things are really booming in parts of the Midwest right now," says Bert Sperling, of Sperling's BestPlaces. "If you take a map and draw a line from North Dakota straight south to Texas, that's where you're going to find areas that have really low unemployment."
|With only a 4.7% jobless rate and 16.1% singles population, Iowa City, Iowa, may be the best place in America to start over after a life-changing event.|
The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls has just 5.5% unemployment and a 15.7% singles rate (America's19th-highest). Sperling says South Dakota's business-friendly laws -- there's no corporate income tax -- have attracted lots of employers, especially banks. Citibank ( C) has a major credit-card-processing facility there, while Wells Fargo ( WFC) and other financial firms have large operations in town as well. >>Like America, Goodyear Is On a Move "Sioux Falls combines a diverse economy with a small-town atmosphere and a low cost of living," he says. Fourth-best starting-over city (tie): Lawton, Okla. / Logan, Utah
Population: 114,600 / 123,800
Lawton combines a low 5.6% jobless rate with a high 15.9% singles rate. Sperling attributes both to the presence of the Fort Sill U.S. military base, which pumps an estimated $1.9 billion into the local economy and hosts some 16,000 troops. Lawton also has a large Goodyear ( GT) tire plant, as well as major government, health care and educational employers. Put it all together and the city "offers a low cost of living, a small-town atmosphere and a stable economy," Sperling says. "It also sits in a very nice spot on the edge of the Wichita Mountains." Logan, Utah, boasts just 5.7% unemployment and a 16.4% singles percentage. Utah State University contributes to both, while the city's high-tech, biomedical, food-processing and call-center employers also give the local economy a big boost. Sperling adds that Logan offers "tremendous quality of life if you love the outdoors. Utah's mountains offer skiing, snowboarding, cycling -- all sorts of things."
Lincoln has only 4.1% unemployment -- the lowest rate for any U.S. city. Sperling attributes much of that to the fact that Lincoln hosts Nebraska's state capitol, as well as a Goodyear ( GT) tire factory and several financial/insurance firms. The city is also home to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which provides jobs and contributes to the community's high 15.1% singles rate. "Lincoln is a nice, clean city with lots of parks and a good community feel," Sperling says, although he admits winters "can be brutal." Second-best city for starting over: Fargo, N.D.
North Dakota's agricultural, mining and oil-and-gas industries are booming, helping to give Fargo the nation's third-lowest jobless rate -- 4.5%. North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University at Moorhead across the state line also contribute to Fargo's economy, as well as to its 15.9% singles rate (America's 14th-highest). "The colleges also help create a surprisingly trendy, hip life in Fargo," Sperling says. "There's a lot of cool stuff going on there. If you can take the harsh winters, it's a great place to live." No. 1 starting-over community: Iowa City, Iowa
This city is home to the University of Iowa, which helps contribute to its 4.7% jobless rate and 16.1% singles population. Located on the Iowa River, Iowa City served as Iowa's territorial capital from 1841 to 1857, and the Old Capitol Building is still a local landmark. "Iowa City really is a nice town," Sperling says. "It has an attractive downtown, a well-educated population and a great community feel to it." >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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