Many studies focus on whole states for GDP and job growth, but I prefer looking at the cities people actually live in, which can be quite different from other parts of states.

That’s where it really happens.

Here’s a ranking of the top 15 cities for job growth over the last year.

It’s not surprising that San Jose and Silicon Valley are at the top with 3.5% given the continued technology explosion happening there.

San Francisco isn’t up there since there’s nowhere left to expand. Though the housing cost and average income are second to San Jose and Silicon Valley, it’s well below the average at $99,533 GDP per capita versus $126,341.

Silicon Valley has higher average wages at $2,293 to partially compensate for the high cost of housing and living there, as does San Francisco.

San Francisco simply doesn’t have the same job growth and wages to compete.

But guess who ties San Jose at 3.5% growth… Austin! A hip area in Texas that attracts high-tech and California migrants who’re tired of the over-the-top home prices.

Seattle comes in at 3.2% job growth. The wages are generally higher, along with GDP per capita and cost-of-living, thanks to the high-tech jobs.

Those three cities are hip and trendy tech-driven areas.

Dallas and Riverside (a city on the south side of the broader metro area of Los Angeles) are very different. Though they sport different styles, these areas have high growth and a relatively low cost-of-living. They’re tied at the third and fourth spot with 3.4% job growth.

Orlando has a 3.2% job growth, benefiting from – like Dallas and Austin – domestic migration, and international migration, especially from Puerto Rico (over 400,000 to date).

Out of these 15 cities, 13 are in the Sun Belt.

That’s the two trends: Sun Belt for weather and tech for wages and lower costs.

The top six in wages, in order, are: San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C., Boston, and New York. But the high cost of living largely offsets the appeal of those cities.

GDP growth is the highest in Raleigh (7.1%), Las Vegas (6.3%), Seattle (6.1%), and Tampa (6.0%).

Unemployment rates are the worst in Buffalo (5.1%), Las Vegas (5.0%), Cleveland (4.5%), Hartford (4.4%), and Philadelphia (4.4%) – mostly areas in the Rust Belt…

No surprise there.

Now, where would I suggest my kids or grandkids look to move for opportunity?

If they aren’t in the high-tech arena, I’d say Texas, particularly Dallas and Austin.

North Carolina for Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.

And Florida, to Orlando or Tampa.

To look at a full list of the top 40 cities and how they stack up against one another, click here.

Follow Me on Twitter @harrydentjr

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Harry Dent
Harry S. Dent Jr. studied economics in college in the ’70s, but found it vague and inconclusive. He became so disillusioned by the state of his chosen profession that he turned his back on it. Instead, he threw himself into the burgeoning new science of finance where identifying and studying demographic, technological, consumer and many, many other trends empowered him to forecast economic changes. Since then, he’s spoken to executives, financial advisors and investors around the world. He’s appeared on “Good Morning America,” PBS, CNBC and CNN/Fox News. He’s been featured in Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Success, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, American Demographics and Omni. He is a regular guest on Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard.” In his latest book, Zero Hour: Turn the Greatest Political and Financial Upheaval in Modern History to Your Advantage, Harry Dent reveals why the greatest social, economic, and political upheaval since the American Revolution is on our doorstep. Discover how its combined effects could cause stocks to crash as much as 80% beginning just weeks from now…crippling your wealth now and for the rest of your life. Harry arms you with the tools you need to financially prepare and survive as the world we know is turned upside down! Today, he uses the research he developed from years of hands-on business experience to offer readers a positive, easy-to-understand view of the economic future by heading up Dent Research, in his flagship newsletter, Boom & Bust.