The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the American job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor, March 2022 reported 6.3 million total unemployed persons — a 3.8% unemployment rate. But, one city stands above the rest for top employment opportunities.
Columbia, Md., was named the “Best U.S. City for Jobs” in 2021 by WalletHub, a personal finance outlet. WalletHub measured 182 cities in the job market and socioeconomics. Among those, 150 of the most populated cities in the United States were included in this comparison.
According to the city’s website, columbiaassociation.org, Columbia has more than 2,500 large and small companies, more than 50 nonprofit organizations and the U.S. Department of Defense provides several jobs to those who want to both live and work in the city.
The Columbia Association, itself, is a nonprofit community services corporation that manages Columbia. The city is now home to approximately 100,000 people. The CA also maintains over 3,600 acres of open space for Columbia, which makes a great asset to the city and is ideal for living.
According to the CA website, Columbia was founded in 1967 by James Rouse and his Howard Research and Development Company.
“Rouse wanted to build a complete city that would respect the land, provide for the growth of people and, ultimately, make a profit,” the CA website states.
Columbia Association President and CEO Lakey Boyd described her community as resilient, resourceful and compassionate during the pandemic.
“We saw individuals step up for their neighbors in incredible ways, providing them with the support they needed to get through the pandemic,” Boyd said.
The Columbia Association offers several spaces for recreation, which, according to Boyd, helped the city to thrive during the pandemic. CA is committed to being an agent of the community, constantly improving the quality of life in Columbia.
“Employers routinely seek out locations that provide added value to their workforce, and our work ensures that Columbia remains one of those attractive places,” Boyd said.
CA continues to see an evolution in the way people work. More workers make decisions based on where they want to live prior to seeking employment, starting a business or bringing their remote job with them. The core of the community and CA’s mission is the idea of a physical space that encourages activities and individual enrichment, making it a worthwhile city to live in.
“Columbia is well-positioned to be a desirable place to live, which, in turn, makes it a desirable place to work, start a business or plug in remotely to a global employer,” Boyd said.
Boyd pointed out that creating a place for people to both live and work while encouraging social activities and individual enrichment is the reason why Columbia has thrived. CA offers an array of opportunities and activities for its residents: classes at the art center, free concerts at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront, walking trails around Lake Elkhorn and more.
In Columbia, there is also Howard County Hospital, part of the Johns Hopkins Medical System. Howard Community College contributes to the city’s award-winning education and library systems for residents. This presents an ideal environment, and residents can take full advantage of all the city offers.
Columbia is also uniquely located between Baltimore and Washington D.C., making it a central hub for many who work in those areas as well, and want to enjoy the benefits the city has to offer.
“Columbia was very much built on purpose, for a purpose. CA has a unique role in enhancing the quality of life for our residents. By virtue of that focus, those benefits also apply to people who work locally and are able to enjoy everything that makes Columbia such a desirable place,” Boyd said.
This approach has garnered recognition beyond WalletHub, earning Columbia many awards over the years. The city has been named one of AARP’s most livable communities, with the mid-sized community category; it ranked No. 8 in 2018. Additionally, it served as one of Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2019, ranking No. 20.
Boyd noted, “Columbia offers a wide range of opportunities to enrich your life and connect with others in meaningful ways. CA is proud to provide so many opportunities to people who both live and work here.”