business

No. 7 Madison, Wisconsin

You can thrive in our number-seven pick even if you don't work in politics or education.

Population: 584,154Income Growth: 8.2%Cost of Living Index: 100Median Household Income: $58,090Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 35%

You can't argue with Madison's numbers. The Wisconsin city has a long track record of low unemployment, and its jobless rate is currently three percentage points below the national average. This city also wins for its low crime rate, first-rate public schools and a ready-made economy that feeds off of its two largest assets: The University of Wisconsin (and its expanding research centers) and the Wisconsin state capital.

But you don't have to work in politics or education to thrive here. Those two institutions account for only 20% of Madison's jobs. Many of the rest come from its strong mix of tech and biotech firms. And the city is friendly for start-ups, with five business incubators that fuel employment.

Expect the offbeat. The satirical newspaper The Onion hails from Madison, as do several indie music labels and a hurling team.By 2016 Madison may be linked via high-speed rail to Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Plans are under way, but funding may depend on the 2016 Olympics. A winning bid for Chicago would give Madison three cycling events to host and help land that high-speed connection.

NEXT: No. 8 Austin

HOME | 12345678910 | Best Cities Center

Most Popular

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space
Budgeting

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space

In this hot real estate market, consider the costs of buying and selling a house along with the expenses associated with your new digs.
November 13, 2020
What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration
Politics

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration

The Kiplinger Letter forecasts President-Elect Joe Biden’s biggest priorities -- and the likelihood of progress on them.
November 19, 2020
The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021

Most of the best healthcare stocks for 2021 will have some sort of ties to COVID, whether it's producing a vaccine or cure, or benefiting from the vir…
November 20, 2020

Recommended

Growing the Family Business
Business Costs & Regulation

Growing the Family Business

This Alabama farmer navigates the uncertainties of tariffs, COVID and unpredictable weather.
November 24, 2020
Financial Benefits for Military Families
Personal Finance for Military Families

Financial Benefits for Military Families

For Veterans Day, we run through benefits and programs meant to offset some of the financial risks service members take on. Also, hosts David Muhlbaum…
November 10, 2020
17 People You Should Tip for the Holidays
spending

17 People You Should Tip for the Holidays

The holiday season is prime time to give back. So who gets a holiday tip this year – and how much?
November 6, 2020
9 Places That Will Pay You to Live There
real estate

9 Places That Will Pay You to Live There

Working remotely? You may want to check out these places who'll pay you to move there.
October 30, 2020