Labor Day, a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century, pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. While millions will celebrate this holiday enjoying a much-needed day off from work, takes on the task of paying tribute to the top “labor” markets in the U.S. by examining the top 10 markets with the lowest unemployment rates[i].

While examining the housing markets for these areas, we reveal the economic landscape as well. As Sophocles once said, “without labor nothing prospers.” Does a healthy job market provide for a prosperous housing market? Find out if it pays to live in these areas with healthy job markets.

10. The leading financial and cultural center of Northern California, San Francisco, is “the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City[ii]” and ranks #10 on our list of labor markets. It’s no wonder people flock to this area – San Fran boasts a relatively low unemployment rate of 6.5 percent. Currently, the median list price for this city found on is almost $840,000[iii], yet this market continues to grow in home prices and increased recently by 19.91 index points, according to the latest Local Market Index Report. Despite higher than average real estate costs, this area continues to grow in both population and home prices.


8. The Virginia BeachNorfolkNewport News, VA-NC market, also called Hampton Roads, is tied with another U.S. market for the #8 spot with a 6.4 percent unemployment rate. This area is “known for its large military presence, its ice-free harbor, shipyards, coal piers, and miles of waterfront property and beaches, all of which contribute to the diversity and stability of the region’s economy[iv].” Current asking prices are relatively affordable in this area – the median list price in the city of Virginia Beach is $265,000, while the city of Norfolk is even lower at $189,000.


8. Tied with the Virginia Beach-Norfolk market, the Columbus, OH metro area additionally reports a low 6.4 percent unemployment rate. Named for explorer Christopher Columbus, this area “has a diverse economy based on education, government, insurance, banking[v],” and more. Just this year, Forbes featured Columbus as one of the best U.S. cities for business with an “A” grade, stating that this area “has worked hard to foster business growth[vi].” Evidently, this hard work is paying off. It’s also worth mentioning that this city’s median list price is the most affordable from this list at almost $112,000.


7. Richmond, VA, the capital of the Commonwealth state, features a 6.3 percent unemployment rate and ranks #7 on this list of labor markets. Also home to six Fortune 500 companies, it is said that, this city’s “economy is primarily driven by law, finance, and government[vii].” Just this year, in addition to being ranked by Forbes as the number 5 best city for jobs, experts saw “an uptick in the housing market in Richmond, stemming from job growth in the region and high demand for quality housing[viii].” Richmond’s current median asking price is relatively affordable at $169,000.


6. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA metro area, centered on the nation’s capital Washington, DC, ranks sixth and with a 6.0 percent unemployment rate. This area is “the most educated and by some measures, the most affluent metropolitan area in the United States[ix].” Clearly, the housing market reflects the affluent nature of the area and thrives with a median list price of $540,000. This is significantly up from our last reported price in December’s Home for the Holidays article – almost a 14 percent increase!


These metro areas noticeably show that labor is a source of prosperity and that a healthy job market equals a thriving housing market. The work doesn’t stop here. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll occupy the remaining five labor markets in the U.S.


[i] Based on the Unemployment Rates for Large Metropolitan Areas (with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more), Bureau of Labor Statistics, Not Seasonally Adjusted, June 2013

[ii] Wikipedia, San Francisco

[iii] Calculated on active residential property listings found on as of July 28,2013

[iv] Wikipedia, Hampton Roads

[v] Wikipedia, Columbus, Ohio

[vii] Wikipedia, Richmond, Virginia

[viii] CBS6,, Disappearing house: Richmond could become a seller’s market, Jake Burns, April 21, 2013

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