ooking for a job? Try a college town.
Morgantown, W.Va., home to West Virginia University, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. — just 3.9% — and the university itself has about 260 job openings, from nurses to professors to programmers.
“We’re hurting for people, especially to fill our computer and technical positions,” says Margaret Phillips, vice president for human relations at WVU.
Of the six metropolitan areas with unemployment below 4% as of January, three of them are considered college towns. One is Morgantown. The other two are Logan, Utah, home of Utah State University, and Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State University. Both have just 3.8% unemployment, based on Labor Department figures that are not seasonally adjusted.
The pattern holds true for many other big college towns, such as Gainesville, Fla., Ann Arbor, Mich., Manhattan, Kan., and Boulder, Colo. In stark contrast, the unadjusted national unemployment rate is 8.5%.
While college towns have long been considered recession-resistant, their ability to avoid the depths of the financial crisis shaking the rest of the nation is noteworthy. The ones faring the best right now are not only major education centers; they also are regional health-care hubs that draw people into the city and benefit from a stable, educated, highly skilled work force.