Small Commutes + Big Houses = Happy Workforces

Depending on your definition of quality of life, Raleigh, North Carolina might be just what the doctor ordered for your small business.

The Tar Heel capital topped a new list compiled by, which calls itself the national business news site for small- and mid-sized-business executives.

“There are several factors that pushed Raleigh to the top of the list, with it being the only major market that’s expanding and growing at a rapid pace, resulting in a metropolitan population increase of 37% since 2000,” said G. Scott Thomas, a demographer who created the analyses for “Raleigh has a well-educated workforce and an impressive supply of high-level jobs, not to mention its low unemployment rate and its impressive array of big houses.”

Well-Rounded Markets

Raleigh edged out two metropolitan areas that are substantially larger: Washington, D.C., at number two and Minneapolis-St. Paul at number three. The study compared the performances of America’s 67 biggest metropolitan areas in 20 statistical categories, and the highest scores went to well-rounded markets with healthy economies, moderate costs of living, light traffic, impressive housing stocks and high-powered educational systems.

Rounding out the top 10 were Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut; Salt Lake City; Denver; Seattle; Boston; Austin; and San Jose.

“We understand the difficulty of trying to get a business going in a new territory. By identifying the categories that define the best qualities of living, we hope that this will alleviate the uncertainties that SMB owners may have so that they could get the most out of a positive experience,” said J. Jennings Moss, editor of, in announcing the results.

Two California markets ended up at the opposite end of the list with Bakersfield coming in last and Fresno a notch higher in 66th place. Also in the bottom five are New Orleans, Memphis, and Riverside-San Bernardino, California.

“Bakersfield has the highest poverty rate of any major market, as well as the lightest concentration of management and professional jobs, weakest inventory of big houses, and smallest percentages in the three educational categories that track adults with high school diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees,” added Thomas.  

Happy Workforce Attributes

If you’re looking for a happy workforce, claims you can find it if you take a look at metros that have the most self-employed workers and the highest concentration of management and professional jobs. Rounding out the top five cities that have the most self-employed workers included Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut, with the highest percentage (14.3), followed by Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, California; Los Angeles; San Diego; and San Francisco-Oakland.

Washington, D.C., ranked as the number one metro with 50% of the population having management and professional jobs. Right behind Washington, D.C., were San Jose, Boston, Raleigh, and San Francisco-Oakland.

Other Factors

This study revealed that Omaha had the shortest commuting time to work (an average of 19.34 minutes), with Rochester, New York, Dayton, Buffalo, and Tulsa right behind. On the other hand, New York City recorded the longest average commuting time at 34.55 minutes.

The U.S. Uncovered series, new this year to, provides analysis of the American lifestyle and business trends that it deems of interest to small- and mid-sized business executives.