Introduction

Over the past couple of years the American economy has been a bigger train wreck than Charlie Sheen at the end of a three day bender, and gainful employment has been harder to find than real hair on Donald Trump's head. But when it comes to economic and employment opportunities some cities have bucked the trend and risen to the top, offering hope that the light at the end of the tunnel may finally be at hand. We came up with the 10 best economy / employment cities by running data through our complicated and unique algorithm, which takes into account the most important metrics when it comes to the category, such as unemployment rates, income per capita and median earnings. A city has to have a population of over 200,000 to qualify. So punch your time card and let's get to the list.

1. Plano, TXScore: 8.6/10

Plano may not top anybody's list of places to visit before they die, but it oozes money the way grease oozes out of a Big Mac. When it comes to healthy economics / employment it is second to none, scoring off the charts in all the categories that matter. Plano is one of the wealthiest cities in America, with an income per capita of $48,198 and a median household income of $103,913, both of which are more than 80% greater than the national average. Throw in the fact that both sexes earn 70% more than the national average, and that almost 25% of residents earn more than $100,000, and you have a city living high on the hog.

Visit our complete Plano, TX City Guide for other valuable city information.

2. Fremont, CAScore: 8.4/10

Recently President Obama paid tribute to the "ingenuity and dynamism" of the citizens of Fremont, and singled out the city as a leader moving forward. The local economy backs this up, as money seems to grow in Fremont faster than it does on a money tree. Consider the numbers. The poverty level is at a paltry 5.4%, which is about half of what it is on average for the rest of the country. The median household income is $96,490 (76% higher than nationally) and the income per capita is $39,578 (50% higher than nationally). Add to the equation a great climate and booming housing market and you have a true "Terminator", just like Governor Arnold.

Visit our complete Fremont, CA City Guide for other valuable city information.

3. Scottsdale, AZScore: 8.3/10

Anybody who has spent time in Scottsdale, and hacked up one of the world class golf courses, or been bored to death by some soused windbag at the one of the country clubs, knows this is a city reeking of money. The prevailing hospitality and tourism industry has provided countless jobs, and well paying ones at that. Look at the income per capita of $55,604, which is one of the highest in the US. Females on the whole fare very well, earning an average of $37,005 (61% higher than the national average). And at $100,000, the median income for owner occupied housing is 84% higher than national levels. Another city blessed with a great climate, Scottsdale is very much a city on the rise.

Visit our complete Scottsdale, AZ City Guide for other valuable city information.

4. San Jose, CAScore: 8.2/10

San Jose received a massive economic shot in the arm during the dot-com boom of the mid 1990's, so much so that Lewis and Gilbert from Revenge of the Nerds are local heroes, and revered as geeks of vision armed with nothing more than a keyboard and pocket protector. As the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose has led the way over the past 15 years. At $88,506, it currently has the highest median income of any city in the US with over 280,000 people, and its residents have the highest disposable income of any city with over 500,000 people. A low poverty level (8.8%) and a 22% increase in job listings (over the past 18 months) paint a picture of a nerd utopia and a robust economy.

Visit our complete San Jose, CA City Guide for other valuable city information.

5. Virginia Beach, VAScore: 8.1/10

In the immortal movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (forgive the fact that Michael Douglas had about as much appeal as a soy burger), proudly proclaimed that "greed is good". Virginia Beach would agree. A resort town located on the longest pleasure beach in the world, and studded with hotels, shops and restaurants, Virginia Beach benefits from tourists spending $857 million annually. This has led to the creation of many jobs, and an unemployment rate of only 7.6% (which is 25% lower than nationally). At 6.5%, the poverty level is 47% lower than the national average, and the median household income of $70,135 is 28.5% higher than the US average.

Visit our complete Virginia Beach, VA City Guide for other valuable city information.

6. San Francisco, CAScore: 7.9/10

The famed "city by the bay", San Francisco has been ground zero for many of the landmark cultural moments of the past century, including the Summer of Love and Gay Equality movement. Like San Jose it has benefitted immensely from the dot-com boom and seen its economy take off. At $43,541 the income per capita is 64% higher than the national average. Tourism has also provided a big shot in the arm (San Fran is the third most popular tourist city in America), creating over $2 billion in annual salaries. And pay equality between the sexes is something that is very much in play in San Francisco, with men on average earning only 25% more than women.

Visit our complete San Francisco, CA City Guide for other valuable city information.

7. Arlington, TXScore: 7.9/10

Recently Charlie Sheen offered to donate his entire fortune (and the rights to Emilio Estevez's film catalogue) to the mayor of Arlington in exchange for setting up a love nest with every "dancer" within city limits. In a decision that can only be attributed to the strength of the local economy he was turned down flat. Arlington has kept people working during the dark years, with an unemployment rate of 8.5% (11% lower than the national average). This has translated into a poverty level that is 20% lower than the rest of the country on average. Homeowners in Arlington are also an affluent lot with a median income of $84,500, which is 22% greater than the Texas average and 15% greater than the national average.

Visit our complete Arlington, TX City Guide for other valuable city information.

8. Lincoln, NEScore: 7.9/10

One the one hand, Lincoln Nebraska might not seem like the most exciting city on the planet. On the other hand, Lincoln has one of the lowest unemployment rates in America. This, my friends, is the yin to the yang. At an outstanding 4.7%, the unemployment rate in Lincoln is 50% lower than the national average. According to the job search engine Careerbuilder.com, Lincoln is one of the 20 best US cities for finding a job and a landing spot for young professionals. With jobs go the spoils, namely an income per capita of $30,427 (15% higher than nationally) and a poverty level of 10.1% (18% lower than nationally).

Visit our complete Lincoln, NE City Guide for other valuable city information.

9. Garland, TXScore: 7.9/10

Texas' third contribution to this list is a city that was forever immortalized by the fact that episodes of the great Chuck Norris' TV series Walker, Texas Ranger were filmed here. As we all know, when Chuck Norris decides to enter a city an embarrassment of riches come with him. The unemployment rate has remained better than average at 8.2% (14% lower than nationally), while the poverty level is very low at 8.9% (50% less than the Texas average and 28% less than nationally). At $64,886 the median household income is 19% greater than the US average, with women earning particularly well at a median earning amount of $29,889, which is a very respectable 29% higher than the national average.

Visit our complete Garland, TX City Guide for other valuable city information.

10. Mesa, AZScore: 7.9/10

Located in the heart of Arizona, Mesa has been a city that has devoted itself to the pursuit of life's finer things, like making salsa by the gallon and slow cooking slabs of meat. That alone is more than enough for one lifetime, but Mesa has also managed to be quite prosperous over the past decade, with a population increase of over 13%. A look at Mesa's stats show consistently solid results, including a median household income 11.4% greater than nationally, a poverty level 27% lower than nationally and an unemployment rate 6% lower. Throw into the mix a booming real estate market and good cost of living and you have a very desirable location.

Visit our complete Mesa, AZ City Guide for other valuable city information.

You can refer to our Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The report is sortable, and it allows you to discriminate by the population as well as your preferred state.