I recently ranked the 100 best places to work, based on lists from Glassdoor and other experts. Then I started to wonder where these great companies were. Did certain cities have a lock on the employers that employees like best?
To give myself a bigger statistical universe, I expanded the list to include all 123 companies that appear on more than one list of popular employers. They include ExxonMobil (#101), FedEx (#111), Capital One Financial (#116), and Estée Lauder (#118).
New York City, the capital of capitalism, houses the headquarters of 18 of the 123 most popular companies, including American Express (#16), Pfizer (#20), and McKinsey (#29).
The second biggest home of happy employees is San Francisco, where six beloved companies — including the high-ranking Salesforce (#6) and Genentech (#24) — make their headquarters.
About 40 miles south of San Francisco stands a cluster of Silicon Valley towns with well-liked employers. At fewer than 80,000 people, Mountain View — home of Google (#1), Intuit (#4), and LinkedIn (#64) — may have more happy employees per capita than any other city. Nearby Santa Clara has Intel (#25) and Nvidia (#95). Santa Clara’s neighbor, San Jose, houses Adobe (#10), Cisco (#14), and PayPal (#80). And not far away, in Cupertino, is Apple (#2).
Dallas and its neighbor Irving have five of the happiest headquarters: Dallas’s Texas Instruments (#15), Southwest Airlines (#18), and Kimberly-Clark (#72), plus Irving’s Epsilon (#93) and ExxonMobil (#101).
Other cities with a relatively high share of popular companies include:
Atlanta, with Delta Air Lines (#31), Southern Company (#77), and Coca-Cola (#98);
Chicago, with Hyatt Hotels (#56), Boeing (#73), and JLL (#112);
and McLean, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C., with Hilton (#97), Mars (#106), and Capital One Financial (#116).
And now, the bad news. America’s second most populous city, Los Angeles — my home town — has none of the 123 most beloved companies.
L.A. neighbor Burbank has the Walt Disney Company (#51). Irvine, about 35 miles southeast of L.A., has In-n-Out Burger (#19). And Thousand Oaks, about 35 miles northwest of the big town, has Amgen (#43). But that’s about it for the L.A. area, despite its aspirations to be the “Silicon Beach” that can attract talent from Northern Cal.
Philadelphia, the country’s fifth biggest city, has the same problem. No beloved companies, though you can find a few in suburban and outlying areas. Conshohocken has IKEA (#26), Newtown Square has SAP (#38), and Chester has Power Home Remodeling (#52).
In even worse shape is the nation’s sixth biggest city, Phoenix. It has none of the 123 most popular companies, just like Philly and L.A. But while those two cities have suburbs and neighbors that house the headquarters of a few happy-employee companies, Phoenix and its suburbs don’t have any of them.
Neither does any other place in Arizona. Or its neighbors New Mexico, Utah and Nevada.
The northernmost New England states — Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire — don’t have any of the top companies, either. Nor can you find them in the upper Midwest’s Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, or either Dakota. Or Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, or West Virginia.
What about little Rhode Island? Sorry, not there either.
So if you want to work happy, try the San Francisco Bay area, from the city of SF at the north to San Jose at the south. Sure, the housing is expensive and the competition for good jobs ferocious.
But if you get into a good company, you’ll probably find it going all-out to keep you satisfied.