By Kurt Badenhausen
The U.S. July jobs report last week showed unemployment dropping from 7.6% to 7.4%, which marks the lowest rate since December 2008. Good times, right? Not exactly. The rate fell in part because more and more workers are on the sidelines discouraged by their inability to find a job. Wage growth has been anemic and the economic recovery from the recession has been the slowest since World War II. The U.S. economy is sputtering along at 2% growth.
But there are places with strong business climates, fueled by low business costs and educated labor forces. With that in mind, Forbes crunched the numbers for our 15th annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.
Des Moines, Iowa tops our list this year. It is the only place that ranks among the top quartile in at least nine of the 12 metrics we graded the cities on. Highlights for the Des Moines metro include business costs that are 17% below the national average and an educated workforce where 36% of the population has a college degree and 92% possess a high school diploma.
Iowa’s capital city has a strong foothold in finance and insurance with the highest concentration of financial services employment in the country and employers are doubling down on the area. Wells Fargo WFC -0.73% has added more than 4,000 jobs in Des Moines over the past 10 years and recently announced a new $100 million expansion in the area. Principal Financial, headquartered in Des Moines, is putting $250 million into an expansion of its downtown campus.