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Posted: 6/17/2009 8:07:19 PM EST
Top 5 Best Places to Start Over

1. Anchorage, Alaska
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 28%
Best job prospects: Construction, Durable Goods Manufacturing, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Information, Financial Activities, Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality, Other Services, Government
Population: 279,243
Average home price in January: $313,796
Unemployment rate: 8.1%

Anchorage has been somewhat buffered from the recession, but it has been hit by low oil prices. The local economy benefits from the state's rich oil and natural gas supplies, tourism, and U.S. military presence.

2. Provo-Orem, Utah
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 24%
Best job prospects: Construction, Transportation & Utilities, Information, Financial Activities, Education & Health Services, Other Services, Government
Population: 90,857
Average home price in January: $195,333
Unemployment rate: 5.1%

The Utah Valley economy has weakened in recent months but the area has benefitted from its technology jobs and jobs at Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University.

3. Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash.
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 24%
Best job prospects: Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality, Government
Population: 794,555
Average home price in January: $133,134
Unemployment rate: 8.8%

The Tri-Cities metro area is made up of the principal cities of Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco. Kennewick, the largest of the three, has a strong manufacturing, food processing, retail trade, and services economy. Fast-growing Pasco's economy is based around food processing, and Richland is home to Washington State University-Tri-Cities and the Energy Dept.'s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

4. Yakima, Wash.
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 24%
Best job prospects: Construction, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, Financial Activities, Professional & Business Services, Leisure & Hospitality, Other Services
Population: 82,805
Average home price in January: $125,231
Unemployment rate: 10.4%

About 75% of all hops are grown in the sunny Yakima metro, which is a rich agricultural area that also produces apples and wines.

5. Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 22%
Best job prospects: Construction, Durable Goods Manufacturing, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Information, Financial Activities, Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality
Population: 419,545
Average home price in January: $114,977
Unemployment rate: 5.1%

The Omaha-area economy is one of the nation's bright spots. It's home to a number of large corporations including Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), Union Pacific (UNP), ConAgra Foods (CAG), and Kiewit. It also has a low cost of living, low pollution, and museums, theaters, and other entertainment


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