by Sharon Florentine

Top 10 U.S. cities for employee happiness

News Analysis
Feb 14, 2017
Careers IT Jobs Relationship Building

New data from employer review site Kununu reveals where you work geographically can have a huge impact on your career happiness.

It’s common knowledge that where you work — meaning who employs you — impacts your happiness. But according to new data from employee review site Kununu, your workplace happiness is also affected by location, location, location.

Kununu analyzed 194,645 employee reviews from 2016 and took the average across four user-rating categories: Support from management, challenging work, office/workplace environment and teamwork. They used these average scores to rank the happiest cities in the U.S. and create the Career Happiness Index.

While the index includes data across all industries, it’s important to note that seven out of the top 10 cities are startup hubs and technology-centric hotspots, and most include technology in their top industries. Here are the top ten U.S. cities with the happiest employees.

1. Cambridge, Massachusetts

Surprisingly, a Silicon Valley city isn’t at the top of the list. Unsurprisingly, Cambridge, which is a tech hotspot and a startup hub in its own right, claims that top honor. The top three industries in Cambridge, according to the survey, are Technology/Media, Education and Healthcare.

2. Palo Alto, California

Another not-so-surprising result, considering Palo Alto’s one of the major cites in Silicon Valley. The top three industries in Palo Alto are Technology/Media, Healthcare and Education, according to the survey.

3. San Francisco, California

Like its neighboring Silicon Valley, San Francisco boasts all manner of tech startups and innovative companies. The top three industries in the City by the Bay are business services, healthcare and construction. The city also passed a comprehensive paid leave law in 2016, requiring private employers in the city to offer their employees six weeks of fully paid parental leave.

[ Related story: 14 best tech jobs in America ]

4. Columbus, Ohio

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Columbus is home to the corporate headquarters of retail giants Abercrombie & Fitch and The Limited, among others. The top three industries are business services, government and healthcare, according to the research.

5. Oakland, California

Like its neighbor, San Francisco, Oakland is home to progressive culture and lots of growing businesses. And they have reason to be happy: Unemployment rates in the Bay area are at a 15-year low. The top three industries in Oakland are travel and trade, business services and healthcare.

6. Framingham, Massachusetts

A western suburb of Boston (and the headquarters of CIO’s parent company IDG), Framingham is part of the growing tech corridor outside the city. The top three industries are healthcare, retail and education.

[ Related story: How to track employee well-being as a KPI ]

7. Burbank, California

Burbank is home to movie studios, next door to Hollywood and just a few miles outside of Los Angeles. The top three industries in the city are entertainment, retail and healthcare, according to Kununu’s data.

8. Memphis, Tennessee

Though it’s the birthplace of the blues, it seems workers in this city on the Mississippi have plenty to be happy about. The top three industries in the southwest Tennessee city are transportation, business services and government.

9. Boston, Massachusetts

Education, technology/media and tourism and hospitality are the top three industries in Boston, according to the Kununu data. Boston’s emerging tech scene rivals Silicon Valley, and is home to many hot startups, technical schools and biotech firms.

[ Related story: 10 biggest recruiting and hiring trends of 2016 ]

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has a thriving tech industry, and each spring hosts Philly Tech Week to celebrate opportunities in technology in the greater Philadelphia area. The top three industries, according to the Kununu data, are healthcare, government and transportation.