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SmartAsset: Top 10 Cities for Working Parents - 2022 Edition

Life is tough for working moms and dads, and the pandemic has exacerbated the stress that parents in the workforce face. A new report from The Ohio State University shows that roughly 66% of working parent respondents met the criteria for burnout. Financial concerns are top of mind for many parents, especially as the prices of goods and services rise rapidly and the stock market enters bear market territory. However, in some cities, housing and childcare costs are lower and parental leave is available to all workers, creating a more favorable environment for working parents.

In this study, we compared 579 cities across topics including employment, housing, safety and education to determine the best cities for working parents in 2022. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s seventh study on the best cities for working parents. Check out the 2021 version here.

Key Findings

  • Utah cities dominate the top 10. Top-ranked Orem, fifth-ranked Provo and sixth-ranked Lehi are located in the Beehive State, more specifically in Utah County. These Utah cities offer low violent crime and unemployment rates, as well as strong high school graduation rates. Notably, Colorado and Iowa also both had two cities in the top 10.
  • High school graduation rates are more than 10% higher in the top 10 than the bottom 10. Across the top 10 cities, the average high school graduation rate is 94.6%, while the figure across the bottom 10 cities is 83.0%. For comparison, the national high school graduation rate is 89.0%.

1. Orem, UT

Approximately 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, the top-ranked city for working parents is Orem. Orem has the 25th-highest high school graduation rate (95.16%) and ties for the 22nd-lowest unemployment rate (1.8% in April 2022). For parents concerned about crime, Orem has a low violent crime rate. At roughly 107 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, Orem ranks 45th-best for this metric out of the 579 cities in our study.

2. Georgetown, TX

Georgetown is the only Texas city in our top 10. It ranks in the top-sixth of cities for its low violent crime rate (146 for every 100,000 residents), strong high school graduation rate (93.28%) and low average annual childcare costs ($8,193). Another unavoidable expense, housing costs, will set parents back less than $15,400 annually on average.

3. Boulder, CO

Working parents with a commute can expect an average of 20 minutes in Boulder, Colorado, which puts it in the top-fifth of cities for this metric. Additionally, the high school graduation rate for the area is the 17th-highest in our study, at 95.53%. The state of Colorado is also one of five states with the most friendly policies towards working parents, offering both paid family medical leave and school-related parental leave policies.

4. Iowa City, IA

Iowa City, Iowa boasts the 22nd-lowest unemployment rate for April 2022 (1.8%) and the 32nd-lowest percentage of the workforce who work more than 50 weeks per year (49.3%). The city also ranks 15th-best for its high school graduation rate of 95.73%. For commuters, the average travel time to work in Iowa City is roughly 17 minutes, putting the city in the top 35 cities for this metric.

5. Provo, UT

As one of the top cities for working parents, Provo, Utah ranks in the top 30 cities for three metrics. First, Provo ties with Orem for the 22nd-lowest April 2022 unemployment rate (1.8%). The city also has the 30th-lowest percentage of the workforce that work 50 or more weeks per year (48.6%).

6. Lehi, UT

The median household income in Lehi, Utah ranks in the top-sixth of cities, exceeding $101,000. There are roughly 109 violent crimes occurring per 100,000 residents (ranking 47th-lowest) and the high school graduation rate of 95.16% (tying for 25th-highest).

7. Ames, IA

Ames, Iowa ranks in the top 10 for its high school graduation rate (third at 96.84%) and the percentage of the workforce that works 50 or more hours per year (10th at 45.3%). In Ames, Iowa, the unemployment rate is the 12th-lowest across the 579 cities in this study (1.5%). Working parents in this city can expect to spend roughly 17 minutes on their commute.

8. Norman, OK

Norman, Oklahoma ranks in the top-fourth of cities across several metrics. Most notably, child care costs are roughly $7,600 annually and the unemployment rate is 2.3% for April 2022. Also, the median annual housing costs in Norman are roughly $11,300. The high school graduation rate for the area is 92.23%.

9. Fort Collins, CO

Like Boulder, Fort Collins belongs to one of five states that has paid family medical leave and school-related parental leave. The median household income in Fort Collins is $70,528 and housing costs are roughly $17,000 annually. The high school graduation rate for the area is 96.19% (ranking seventh-best) and average commute time is about 21 minutes.

10. Auburn, AL

Average childcare costs in Alabama are below $5,600 annually and in Auburn, the high school graduation rate is roughly 90%. The unemployment rate in April 2022 for the area is 1.7% (ranking 15th-best). Of employed people, less than half (or 45.6% to be exact) work 50 or more hours per year (ranking 11th-best).

Data and Methodology

To rank the best cities for working parents, SmartAsset looked at the 600 largest cities in the U.S. Of those, 579 had complete data across the following 10 metrics:

  • April 2022 unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is measured at the county level.
  • Median household income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Median annual housing costs. This includes owner- and renter-occupied housing units. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of the workforce working 50 or more weeks per year. This is the percentage of the population between the ages of 16 and 64 who work between 50 and 52 weeks per year. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of households with internet access. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Average commute time. This is the average number of minutes it takes to get to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and is for 2020. For cities where FBI data was unavailable, we used Neighborhood Scout data.
  • High school graduation rate. Data comes from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
  • Access to parental leave. This is a score based on whether the state offers access to paid or unpaid family medical workplace leave and school-related parental leave. Data comes from the National Conference of State Legislatures and is as of 2022.
  • Average annual childcare costs. This is the average annual cost of infant care and average cost for care for a four-year-old in each state. Data comes from the Economic Policy Institute.

To create our final ranking, we ranked each of the 579 cities in every metric. We then found each city’s average ranking, giving a full weight to all metrics except the percentage of households with internet access and average commute time, which were both half-weighted. We used the average ranking to determine a final score. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the lowest received a score of 0.

Tips for Working Parents

  • Make your budget responsive. Rapidly rising inflation is stretching the wallets of many Americans and parents with mouths to feed are some of those most impacted. Reviewing and adjusting your budget regularly can help combat rising costs. Our free budget calculator can give you a clear picture of your current spending but also show you where cutting back on excess expenses can maximize your savings.
  • Consider a 529 college savings account. Even with market instability, it is still vital to set aside funds for your child's future. Learn what these type of custodial accounts are and how to access them wherever you are across the county.
  • Work with an expert. A financial advisor can help you guide the moving pieces of your financial journey throughout your parental journey. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock/champpixs

Anja Solum Anja Solum is a data journalist at SmartAsset covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and debt management. Before joining SmartAsset, she worked on both agency and in-house content marketing teams where she developed her love for data analysis and visualization. In her free time, she nurtures a passion for gaming, a recent addiction to anime & KDramas, and a mischievous labrador retriever. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in Norway, Jamaica, and Denmark in addition to the U.S. but now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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