- Seattle took the top spot in WalletHub's 2019 ranking of the best cities for STEM professionals, based on a comparison of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas.
- Seattle was followed by Boston, Pittsburgh, Austin, TX and San Francisco. The worst-ranked cities were Little Rock, AR (96); Memphis, TN (97); Jackson, MS (98); North Port, FL (99) and Cape Coral, FL (100).
- WalletHub compared the markets across three key dimensions: professional opportunities (such as STEM employment growth and median wage for STEM workers), "STEM-friendliness" (such as quality of engineering schools and R&D spending), and quality of life (such as housing affordability and family-friendliness).
As cities work to position themselves as tech hubs, the competition to attract STEM talent is growing. According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs in 2015 (making up about 6.2% of U.S. employment) with 70% of the largest STEM occupations related to computers.
It's to little surprise cities like Seattle and Boston topped the list, considering they are homes to some of the biggest technology corporations and research institutions in the country. However, the ranking does present some startling results. New York — which is often listed as a top talent market and has long positioned itself as a leading tech hub, especially following its recent win of the Amazon HQ2 bid — came it at No. 60, a low rank behind cities such as Ogden, UT and Des Moines, IA. Los Angeles and Washington, DC also ranked poorly in comparison to their major-city peers, coming in at Nos. 30 and 31, respectively.
When asked how local authorities can make their cities more appealing to STEM professionals, Martin Storksdieck, director of the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, told WalletHub, "Cities that generate highly skilled STEM professionals are also hubs for STEM employment and STEM-oriented companies ... Local authorities can work with local employers and local community colleges to craft tailored programs that supply the local STEM labor market with high quality professionals."
While it is critical for cities to attract and invest in technology talent, science, engineering and math — can be equally as lucrative. Investing in STEM education, encouraging STEM meetups and offering community programs that enhance interest in and understanding of STEM fields are all ways cities can rise in these rankings.