RIVERVIEW — East Hillsborough snagged two of the top three spots for best communities in Florida for job seekers, according to a recent study completed by a national financial website.
NerdWallet.com awarded Valrico second place and Riverview third as the best locations for those on the job hunt.
The study evaluated three questions: Do people earn high salaries? Is the city growing? And, are most people employed? This required evaluating median household income, population growth of those 16 and over and the employment rate.
This recognition comes on the heals of Riverivew landing a spot on CNN Money's 2012 list of best places to live in America. The East Hillsborough community ranked 67 on that list.
"We do have lots of opportunities and growth here in our area, and this is just another way the community is being highlighted," said Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce. "It's great exposure for not only the area but the businesses here in our community, too."
Both Valrico and Riverview were highlighted on the list due to their tremendous population growth in the last few years. Both cities grew by more than 260 percent between 2008 and 2011.
Tampa area communities dominated the top of the list, with Wesley Chapel claiming first place. Annie Wang, who conducted the study, said they saw a trend of smaller cities, towns and suburbs being more job-friendly than the big metropolises such as Tampa.
"They're really good indicators of what's up and coming," Wang said. "We really do see a trend now of, 'I want to get a job, but I don't know if I want to move to a big city.' "
For one thing, the cost of living is higher in cities, Wang said. And that can be a big barrier for the unemployed or underemployed.
"These peripheral cities are the best of both worlds," Wang said. "They're smaller and more residential, but you also have the access to Tampa to explore the nightlife and dining life."
Median household income and employment rate were the other factors shaping the list.
Valrico's median income of $76,016 and a relatively high employment rate of 65.1 percent helped it edge out Riverview. More than 70 percent of the Riverview population is employed, and the median household income is $67,298, according to the study.
Both communities have similar job markets, Wang said. A fifth of the population in both Valrico and Riverview works in education services, health care and social assistance, and about 13 percent work in professional, scientific, management and administrative services.
"I have really seen during this tough economic time businesses coming together and supporting each other, becoming more efficient in what they do and really digging in their heals to make things work and survive through today," Doran said. "And I think now things are on the upswing, and businesses are seeing the fruits of their labor."
Caitlin Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443.