The Job Search: Have You Moved For Work?

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Washington, D.C. ranked number six on Kotkin and Shires' list of best big cities for jobs. Humberto Moreno/Flickr hide caption

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U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. ranked number six on Kotkin and Shires' list of best big cities for jobs.

Humberto Moreno/Flickr

Every year, Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires compile a set of employment rankings: The "best and worst cities for jobs." They call the 2010 results depressing, to say the least.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kotkin and Shires look at cities large, medium-sized and small. They chart areas of growth and contraction, and try to identify long-term momentum.

In the past, even in bad years, there were always some places creating lots of new jobs. This year that was less true. From January 2009 to January 2010, only 13 metro areas showed any growth.

But, there are still rays of hope — Austin, Tex. with its growing tech sector, and smaller cities, too, like Jacksonville, N.C.

Tell us: Have you moved for a job opportunity?

NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Over the past two years, in the course of several programs, we used different terms to describe the struggles of the U.S. job market, from middling to grim. Today the word our guests use is depressing.

Every year, Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires rank the best and worst cities for jobs, based on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They look at cities large, medium-sized and small. They chart areas of growth and contraction and try to identify long-term momentum, and in the past, even in bad years, there were always some places creating lots of new jobs.

This year, not so much. From January 2009 to January 2010, only 13 metro areas showed any growth. So the news is not great, sure, but some places are clearly better set than others, including some surprises, while a lot of one-time boom towns have fallen on hard times.

So would you follow opportunity? If you moved for a job this past year, how did that work out for you? If not, are you ready to move for a job? Tell us your story. Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, terror suspects and Miranda rights. But first, Joel Kotkin is a Forbes Weekly columnist and presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. He's with us today from member station KPCC in Pasadena. Nice to have you back on the program.

Mr. JOEL KOTKIN (Forbes Weekly): Nice to be here.

CONAN: And Michael Shires is an associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University and joins us from a studio on the campus there in Malibu. Nice to have you with us today.

Professor MICHAEL SHIRES (Pepperdine University): It's a pleasure to be here.

CONAN: And Joel Kotkin, you do the survey annually. Were you surprised by how bleak it looks this year?

Mr. KOTKIN: Well, Mike and I have been doing it for Forbes the last few years, and before that we were doing it, and we posted on the New Geography site. I was just horrified by these numbers. I mean, it was like really the least-worst list as opposed to the best-places list.

Very disappointing, and I think Mike, when were discussing the piece that I was writing for Forbes about it, Mike's word was depressing, and it was. It was just awful. And not only that, but also many of the areas that were doing, in quotes, "well" were places that basically most of the stimulus was coming from the government.

CONAN: So this is places a lot of the places, Michael Shires, that you found identified as doing pretty well were, for example, around military bases.

Prof. SHIRES: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at sort of the two places where you didn't expect cities to show up, it was, you know, in the South around Fort Lejeune, or Camp Lejeune, and Fort Bragg, and also around Washington, D.C., and Washington and Northern Virginia do really well at this time. You just a lot of government dollars going to support sort of or maintain the economy.

CONAN: And a lot of us might expect that the Rust Belt cities of the Upper Midwest around the Great Lakes, well, that they will continue to do badly, but you also found that some places in the Sun Belt that had been prospering of(ph) recent years were doing really badly.

Mr. KOTKIN: Well, I think the key thing here is that in the Sun Belt towns the economy was really built around speculation, that it wasn't you know, there wasn't a broad base.

Now, in contrast, the Texas cities do exceptionally well, and although they are also considered the Sun Belt, they have much more going on in their economies in terms of technology, energy, business services, and they have been consistent players, I think, almost every year that Mike and I have been doing the survey. They dominate the big city list virtually every year.

CONAN: And Michael Shires, you were talking about government expenditures being the source of prosperity for some places, and some growth in some places, but places like New York City, though it lost jobs overall, did relatively well around an economy you describe as meds and eds.

Prof. SHIRES: Well, you know, I didn't really expect New York City to do as well as it did. I think a lot of that, though, is fueled by sort of a wait-and-see attitude in the stock market. And over the course of the last year we've seen, you know, some recovery of the losses early on, and I think a lot of what people expected to be huge transformations in the stock market aspect of New York City never really materialized. Those people are still working, and they're still doing the same trades.

Mr. KOTKIN: And I'd like to just add a little bit. I just came back from New York recently, and as you can probably tell from my accent, it is my hometown. But what I found also is people forget that New York has really become not only a major medical center but a big college town.

I mean, if you go particularly south of 34th Street, and you are over the age of 50, as I am, you feel out of place. And so it has kind of a college town feel, and so far that part of the economy seems to have held up. The college towns are another group that have done well.

CONAN: Also uptown, you go to Columbia, CCNY, Hunter, places like that too, and that's just Manhattan. There's colleges elsewhere in the city of New York. But in any case, as you look at some of these surprises, a place that is consistent and consistently depressing seems to be the Golden State, where you guys both are, in California.

Mr. KOTKIN: You know, I feel like saying don't get me started. You know, Mike and I are both, you know, Californians. I mean, I've been here since 1971. This is a state that, you know, I think if, you know, my feeling is if God had a good day it was when he made California.

And how we have managed to blow our great advantage, and how we don't seem to be coming out of the recession particularly well either, is really quite shocking, and I think well, Mike might have some explanations as well, but I certainly think that we've had a very bad time with our regulatory environment.

And then the whole atmosphere of a failed state, of a place that cannot run itself, I think has an impact.

CONAN: Failed state - we're talking California, not Somalia here.

Mr. KOTKIN: Right.

CONAN: Okay. Mike Shires?

Prof. SHIRES: Well, you know, I think one of the big things is that especially for the Sun Belt, this was a transformational recession. I mean, you know, we've changed the order of business. We used to have sort of broad-based growth in these areas because of speculation, because of growth in the real estate market.

That speculation and growth has not only deflated, but there's really no expectation it's going to come back, and so the entire economy is really cautious.

You stack on top of that, in the case of California, an extremely progressive public finance system that was heavily dependent on really wealthy, you know, speculative behaviors, and then you add into that sort of a lackadaisical economic strategy and a heavily regulated environment, and it's going to be tough for California.

That's not to say we won't come out of it, but unlike recessions in the past, where we just sort of waited for the economy to grow us out of it, this one is going to take a slow, deliberate path.

CONAN: We want to get some callers involved in the conversation. If you moved for a job in the past year, how did that work out for you? Are you ready to move for a job. 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Katherine(ph) is on the line with us from Sonoma County in California.

KATHERINE (Caller): Hi, yeah, I'm ready to move. I'm moving down to the East Bay to take a job in a high-needs school, to teach in a high school that needs science teachers. I haven't worked in 23 years, but I'm ready to go back in there and help the new generation learn science, because my husband's been out of work for 10 months.

CONAN: Wow, and what does your husband do?

KATHERINE: He was a consultant in the finance industry.

CONAN: In the finance industry that has fallen on hard times, yeah.

KATHERINE: Absolutely.

CONAN: And so you're going back to the East Bay, to a high-needs area, as you describe it?

KATHERINE: Right, there's money going in to train people who have not been teachers before to take on the job of teaching the next generation. (Technical difficulties) learned, and I'm going to try it and see how it goes.

CONAN: Well, good luck to you, Katherine. We appreciate that.

KATHERINE: Thanks.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Joel Kotkin, she's moving from one part of California to another, but going back into work for in an industry, well, education. This is sort of an odd one, isn't it?

Mr. KOTKIN: Well, education is one of the things that's been growing, and interestingly enough, Sonoma County, which is one of the really gorgeous places in this country...

CONAN: In the world, yeah.

Mr. KOTKIN: It really has a terrible economy right now. I was up there not too long ago, and their vacancy rates were close to those of Detroit. It's extreme NIMBY, very hard to do any business in that county. You've got a lot of aging boomers who really dont want anything much to happen.

And so she's obviously just moving to a place where there's an opportunity, and I think that we will see a lot of people beginning to change what they're doing - if not moving, moving in their careers.

CONAN: You talked about education as a growth area, and yes, some places are indeed hiring teachers, but there's others where teachers are being laid off, and you also talked about the coming problems of state and local governments who are, their tax base has eroded.

Prof. SHIRES: Well, I think this is...

CONAN: Go ahead, Michael.

Mr. KOTKIN: I'm sorry.

Prof. SHIRES: Well, as I say, I think her example actually is one of the examples of what we're going to see as we sort of work our way through this recession. The kinds of opportunities that are opening up in professions are either very high specific-skill positions, or they're going to be very low-risk positions for the employer; in other words, somebody I can bring in this week and send out next week.

In her case, it was a very specific-skill job, and those people are finding positions in this economy, even in education, which - I mean, as you look at school districts across the state, they are laying off teachers. Education schools are starting to have trouble getting students in the front door because of the declining opportunity in the field.

So I think there's kind of a lag effect going on in education in the midst of this too.

CONAN: Here's an email we have from Holly. Yes, Holly. I'm a teacher in Chicago, where layoffs keep coming. I'm considering a move to Texas, where they are actually hiring teachers. So that speaks to your point.

Let's go to Jennifer, Jennifer on the line from Holyoke, Massachusetts.

JENNIFER (Caller): Yes, hi, this is Jennifer.

CONAN: Go ahead, please, you're on the air.

JENNIFER: Hi, I just wanted to make a comment that I moved from southern Vermont to Holyoke, Massachusetts to take a job. I started in October, and I'm liking that I made the move very much.

CONAN: So it's working out for you. What do you do for a living, Jennifer?

JENNIFER: I'm a hospice nurse.

CONAN: And were you doing that in New Hampshire as well?

JENNIFER: Vermont.

CONAN: In Vermont, excuse me.

JENNIFER: I've done visiting nursing on and off over the past almost 30 years.

CONAN: And what was the difference? What lured you down to Holyoke?

JENNIFER: Well, I was not happy with the direction that the agency that I was working in was taking, and I felt that I'd always wanted to try hospice nursing. I'd never formally done that before. And this opportunity came along in Holyoke. and I've actually been very surprised that in Holyoke specifically the cost of living is cheaper than what I experienced in southern Vermont, and the pay is better.

CONAN: Hmm. We're also told nursing in general, one of those professions where there's such a shortage that if you wanted to work in Honolulu or in Hialeah, you could get jobs there too.

JENNIFER: Well, there's always a demand for nurses. The question is, are they jobs that you want to do and what are the conditions under which you have to work? Nursing is an extremely stressful position. Many nurses are overworked, underappreciated, and I'm very leery of people just getting into nursing because they think, oh, that's where there's a job, and then they don't realize the harsh realities that are out there.

CONAN: Well, Jennifer, good luck to you. Thank you very much for the phone call.

JENNIFER: Thank you very much.

CONAN: We're talking about where jobs are and where they aren't - the best and worst cities for jobs. Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires are with us. If you moved to take a job this past year, how did that work out for you? If not, are you planning to? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Still a mixed bag for jobs in the economy. Last month, the unemployment climbed to 9.9 percent, but the economy added far more jobs than anyone expected. That tells us that more people who stopped looking for work in the dark days of the recession are back in the job hunt. Their success may depend largely on where they live.

We're talking, today, about the best and worst cities for jobs. Every year, Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires put out their lists. You can find links to both at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION and tell us your story. Would you follow opportunity? If you moved for job this past year, how did that work out for you? If not, are you ready to move for a job? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Joel Kotkin is distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. His most recent book, "The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050." And Michael Shires is associate professor at Pepperdine in Malibu, where he suffers the weather.

And let me ask you, one of things you said in your piece, Joel, for Forbes is that Americans are moving back to small cities.

Mr. KOTKIN: Well, what we find is that in many ways, that some of the small cities I think Mike, I think when we went through the list, almost all the net gainers were small towns. Some small cities are doing very well, Bismarck, North Dakota, for instance, which is a government town but also is a big energy center.

We have places like Fargo, which is also doing quite well, also in North Dakota. Some of these smaller towns and they're also more affordable, and they also have good educational opportunities.

So Americans, I think, are looking for places that are affordable, where they can get a decent job, and remember, what's a decent job in Los Angeles or in New York, may not, you know, may not be able to support a middle-class standard of living, where you're much more likely to find that in some of the smaller towns, as well as in places like Texas.

CONAN: And Mike, I'm looking at the list of small cities that are doing well. As mentioned, Jacksonville, North Carolina; Bismarck, North Dakota; College Station-Bryan, Texas. That's a college town?

Prof. SHIRES: It is. It's Texas A&M.

CONAN: And Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, that's around a big Army base.

Mr. KOTKIN: Fort Hood.

CONAN: Yes, indeed. St. Joseph, Missouri. Why that?

Prof. SHIRES: Well, we've seen some resilience in Midwestern cities. I think part of it is that a lot of the growth we saw in the last decade or so is really, you know, a lot of it's been fueled by real estate speculation.

The Midwest didn't have as much of that, and so as we recover, you know, business and industries, as they look to grow, are picking places with lower costs of living, lower regulatory environments, to start adding employees.

And so, you know, you get some of these suburban towns that are outside, especially in the Midwest, that are doing quite well.

CONAN: And then you go to the bottom of that list, and you look at Morristown, Tennessee; Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana; Holland-Grand Haven, Michigan; Kokomo, Indiana. They all look to me like manufacturing towns that lost their factories.

Mr. KOTKIN: That's definitely the case, and it's been going on. I think, Mike, every year, the Michigan cities and some of the old, industrial cities of the Great Lakes are at the bottom.

What will be interesting is if manufacturing and we speculate about this -that if manufacturing begins to pick up, will any of these cities benefit?

Now, of course, manufacturing also has been moving to Texas and out to the Great Plains. So whether the new production will be in these cities, we don't know. I mean, I think also, a lot's going to depend on which company is in, you know, are you tied to. If you're tied to, for instance, the Korean makers or to Ford, your prospects are probably much better than if they're tied to Chrysler and even, right now, Toyota.

CONAN: Let's go next to Sam(ph), Sam with us from Fanning Springs, Florida.

SAM (Caller): Yes, I recently moved and well, not four months ago from Jacksonville, Florida. You know, my rent there was right around $1,000 a month, me and my wife and my son. And moved over here on the Gulf Coast of Florida and because I was looking on the Internet and the local paper from here, and there was loads of job opportunities.

I work in the food service industry, and once I got here and started looking out at what was offered, they'd rather hire the local people from the local area. And it's, you know, it's a little bleak here, it really is, and I'm you know, I'm considering moving because the economy here is good, but it's basically for the local people. The people that move here, it's not real good, not real good.

CONAN: And are you also anticipating, perhaps, some fallout from the oil spill?

SAM: No, not where I'm at, not where I'm at. They have talked about it, but mainly from Apalachicola south.

CONAN: I see.

SAM: You know, around this area, you know, they do have clams and oysters and some shrimping, but, you know, the local seafood industry around here, that's mainly the restaurants, and that's Cedar Key, Florida, which is not down in south Florida but here in north Florida, is where I was hoping to get employment at. And it's just there must have been at least 10 jobs advertised every week in the paper, but it's basically the local people.

CONAN: It's who you know, not what you know.

SAM: Exactly, exactly, and it's real hard on me, and I'm considering moving.

CONAN: All right, where to, Sam, back home to Jacksonville?

SAM: No, probably back to Tallahassee. That's my home.

CONAN: Okay.

SAM: There's still lots of opportunity there, but...

CONAN: Another college town.

SAM: Yeah, but it still, it's good you know, living here is good, but the economy, you know, if I had a steady income, I wouldn't have any problem. It's very inexpensive living here. You know, I went from $1,000 a month for rent down to $475 a month for rent.

CONAN: That's a big drop, yet.

SAM: And it's the same size home, same square footage, and the school, it's a good school for my son. But, you know, employment's my main concern.

CONAN: Well, you've got to start with that, Sam. Good luck to you, appreciate it.

SAM: Okay, thank you.

CONAN: Here's an email from Rebecca(ph) in Troy, Michigan. We were shocked when my husband found an engineering job in Detroit. We did move here. It has worked out well so far. We even bought a house. The only challenge has been my own job search. My field is librarianship, and needless to say, the diminishing tax base here in Michigan does not bode well for jobs in public service.

And Joel Kotkin, well, Detroit right down near the bottom.

Mr. KOTKIN: And that's been very consistent. Now, one keeps hoping that a resurgence in American manufacturing would not only create more jobs in that area, but also would help the state so that it could hire more librarians.

I mean, there is kind of a death spiral that some regions get into, where things begin to unravel more and more. In other words, the government services can't be paid for because the private sector's weak, and it just feeds on itself.

And it's the numbers of Michigan cities in the bottom 10, 15 is always almost about half of them.

CONAN: I should point out you hear expressions from Joel Kotkin like death spiral and depressing and failed state. His book, "The Next Hundred Million: America at 2050," is a very optimistic look at our country. So he's over the long haul, he sees things getting much better.

Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. Tom's(ph) with us from Greensboro, North Carolina.

TOM (Caller): Good afternoon.

CONAN: Hi, Tom, go ahead, please.

TOM: I had relocated, have a construction business in Lansing, Michigan, and was offered a position with a construction company in Charlottesville, Virginia, about a year and a half ago. Our house had lost 80 percent of its value, and my wife would have an easy time transferring from Michigan State University to University of Virginia.

So we made the move, and I'm so happy. I'm still a self-employed carpenter. Charlottesville, Virginia, has all kinds of opportunity with the National Ground Intelligence Center, Northrop Grumman. It is somewhat of a government and university city that shows plenty of growth.

CONAN: And a very pretty part of the country, too.

TOM: Oh, it is absolutely beautiful. The school systems are excellent, also.

CONAN: So you're overall, very happy you moved, Tom?

TOM: Oh, yes. I should've done it 15 years ago.

CONAN: All right, good luck to you.

TOM: Well, thank you very much.

CONAN: Appreciate the phone call. Here's an email from Jenny(ph) in Utah. I'm ready to move to Oregon, maybe Portland, because I feel I'd fit in better there than in Utah. I'm interested in wildlife biology or animal rehabilitation. I'm wondering how the economy is in Oregon, as I've heard the job market is not so great there. Michael Shires, can you help her out?

Prof. SHIRES: Well, Oregon is kind of a mixed story. In Portland and some of the cities that have really targeted the knowledge class, you really have a situation where, you know, the information technology sector is just not carrying it along.

Portland is also highly regulated, and I mean, one of the keys to firms coming out of this recession is going to be their ability to be agile. And if you have a highly regulated environment like Portland, that's going to be a problem.

However, places like Salem actually do quite well. Salem placed 23rd in our mid-sized category, and you know, again it's government. It's college. You know, it's education. There's not a major university there, but, you know, you still have a pretty decent infrastructure for community colleges and the like.

So, you know, I'd say if you avoid the Portland-Vancouver-Washington area, you'd probably do okay.

CONAN: Let's go next to Emily(ph), Emily on the line from Baltimore.

EMILY (Caller): Hi there.

CONAN: Hi.

EMILY: I just moved in August from Texas to Baltimore, Maryland, for a job. I finished up my masters in public health in May. I was jobless and was looking and found a job as a research coordinator at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. And so I've been here since August. And I really like it. I like its proximity to D.C. I live in a nice section of the city. It's very eclectic and it's really worked out well.

CONAN: It's a very interesting city. And I wonder, Joel Kotkin, does Baltimore get any backwash from its proximity to Washington, D.C.?

Prof. KOTKIN: Oh, tremendous amount of commuting. It's really a place where people who work in the District or around the District can actually take a - I think, it's about a 40-minute train ride and live in a - whatever they want, whether it's a suburban house or a townhouse or in a old urban neighborhood at much lower cost than what you have in the District. So it certainly has the advantage.

You know, one of the things I do feel good about is that Americans - and you hear it in the voices - they're adjusting. They're figuring out something that works for them. And if they go some place and it doesnt work, theyll go somewhere else. And that's what Americans are about. They're a resilient people. Well figure it out. And I think that, you know, for many people like, take a place like Baltimore, which has tremendous challenges but the fact that it offers a - options in terms of quality of life that are not available in Washington, D.C., could be a big plus for it.

CONAN: Emily, good luck to you.

EMILY: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Here's an email that we have from Bruce(ph) in Providence, Rhode Island. At the start of the year, January 11th, I switched jobs from Providence, where I lived, to a job in Stamford, Connecticut, a two-and-a-half-hour commute. My salary went up 20 percent. I commute by train two days a week, working on the train and work out of my house the other three days. I switched due to my concerns about the viability of my previous job and the prospects at the current new job. So, people obviously willing to undergo considerable commutes to transfer jobs.

This e-mail from Judy(ph). We are in our 60s. My husband was in the midst of getting laid off when he received a very nice job offer in a small city in central New York. We are happy both to be employed and have health care. Except for real estate taxes, the cost of living is really low here. Never in a million years did I think at this time in my life I would be moving across the country for employment.

Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires put together a list for Forbes of the best and worst cities in America for jobs. Again, you can get a link to their lists at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And Joel - and Michael, too - I wanted to ask you guys about the prospects. As you look out - and not to go back to that death spiral, Joel, but you were talking about some prospects for a lot of places. Local governments are going to be losing some of that stimulus money. And, indeed, if the economy does not pick up, they're going to be very hard pressed.

Prof. KOTKIN: Well, I think were going to have to have sustainable growth in the private sector. You know, whatever one might have thought of the president's stimulus, you just cannot continue to stimulate the economy based on government employment. We are seeing some good signs in manufacturing, a little bit in the technology field. And I think there are places in this country that will resurge. But there will be a very tough readjustment. I think - you know, I think as Mike would almost - has sort of implied, this recession was a life-changing event in the history of this country, and obviously, has changed the lives of many people.

And when we put the list on newgeography.com, our website, it was the individual stories like what you're hearing today are very, very interesting and very telling about how people are trying to adjust to this economy. And, you know, I still feel hopeful. I just think it may take quite a few years till we get to where we want to be.

CONAN: Michael Shires, are you encouraged by some of the employment numbers we've seen in the last couple of months?

Prof. SHIRES: I am. I mean, I think that, you know, in the private sector, it's possible that the very worst of its over and it's just a matter of slow growth. There is sort of one wild card in all of this. And, you know, being a Californian, especially, we see this with an election in front of us, where government can slow this down.

And I think it's important to recognize, while the private sector has recognized the reality of this transformation in the economy, the public sector has tried to limp through it in hopes that, you know, the private sector would provide the money to restore spending. And governments are begrudgingly and slowly starting to recognize, no, we have to change our cost structure. If government chooses instead to raise taxes to continue to sustain the current cost structure, all of that can slow down - the recovery that we see starting to emerge in this quarter.

CONAN: On the other side of that coin, though, if governments say, well, we can't sustain the current spending structure so we're going to have to lay a whole lot of people off, that's not going to help either, is it?

Prof. SHIRES: Well, it's not. You know, I think one of the challenges is that maybe government costs more per person than it needs to. And, you know, I'm sure you'll get some responses from public employees, but, you know, I mean, one of the challenges we have is that government is very expensive right now. And we either have to choose to have less of it, to raise more money so that we can sustain what we have, or to find ways of providing what we do provide more inexpensively.

CONAN: Let's get a call in from Susanna(ph), Susanna in Denison, Texas.

SUSANNA (Caller): Hi. I was calling to comment about moving within the last year.

CONAN: Yup.

SUSANNA: I moved from Denver, Colorado, back to Texas. I'm a territory manager for a pet products manufacturer, and Texas is much cheaper to live in. I saved almost $250 just moving back to Texas after lower insurance costs, no state or local income tax and car registration. And the pet product field of sales is actually growing, and I'm doing very well.

CONAN: And what part of that state is Denison in?

SUSANA: Denison is about an hour north of Dallas, Texas.

CONAN: And you are happy about the move?

SUSANNA: I am.

CONAN: All right.

SUSANNA: I'm actually from Texas, so I moved back.

CONAN: So you moved back, so you're back closer to your friends and family?

SUSANNA: That is correct.

CONAN: So it's working out on all sides?

SUSANNA: It's working out fabulous.

CONAN: Why did you move to Denver in the first place?

SUSANNA: I tried to take a job with the same company.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: So you stayed with the same company, but you've transferred to a more prosperous and less expensive region?

SUSANNA: Correct. And took a different job within the same company.

CONAN: All right. Susanna, continued good luck to you. Thank you very much.

SUSANNA: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. All right. Here's an email that we got, this from Dan(ph) in Nashville. Texas might be doing better than others, but its governments are still hurting. After getting a master's in urban planning, I ended up moving to Nashville to find a job in my field. It has been a great choice so far.

So, different people having different experiences moving to Texas. Though we have to report that on the list of the best and worst jobs in America - cities - jobs - anyway, the list - cities in Texas do very well and, well, some other places not so well. Again, take a look at the list. There's a link to it on our website at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires, thanks very much for your time today.

Prof. KOTKIN: Great to be here.

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Read About Kotkin And Shires' Best And Worst Cities At Forbes

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