top metro areas for job seekers

The best cities for job hunting

February 3, 2012: 10:54 AM ET

Hiring nationwide is still sluggish, but local economies in some places are thriving and creating jobs. Ever thought about moving to Texas?

By Anne Fisher, contributor

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FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I just got a pink slip from the bank where I've worked as a marketing director for the past 12 years, and which is now undergoing a total restructuring, so I'm pondering what my next move should be. Opportunities are limited in the smallish East Coast city where I live (the bank I'll soon be leaving is the single biggest employer in town) and, having moved here solely to take the position I'm now losing, I'm not particularly attached to this area. Our kids are away at college now, our mortgage is paid off, and my wife, who is a pediatrician, really could work anywhere.

So we're open to the idea of moving -- but where would I have the best chance of finding a new job? I'm also wondering, do many employers still pay moving expenses for new management hires, or is that a thing of the past? — Footloose

Dear Footloose: To answer your second question first, employers' willingness to help out with the cost of relocating has been declining steadily since 2008, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. In 2007, for instance, 40% of companies would pick up the tab for a candidate to visit his or her new hometown before moving there. In 2011, only 18% would. The percentage offering help with selling a transplanted executive's previous home dropped from 19% in 2007 to 9% four years later.

Now, however, there are signs that may be changing. "One of the key trends we've seen lately is the movement of labor in and out of markets across the U.S.," says Matt Ferguson, CEO of job site CareerBuilder. "Workers have had to expand their job search geographically, and employers in need of hard-to-find, skilled talent have had to recruit across state lines."

As a result, says a new CareerBuilder poll of 3,023 employers, about one-third (32%) say they'll foot the bill for bringing out-of-town candidates on board. There's a catch: Their willingness to do so varies markedly depending on the kind of talent they're seeking. Engineers have the best chance of negotiating for financial help with a move, with 30% of employers saying they'd pay, followed by information technology hires at 23%. Business development and sales are tied at 21%. More

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