#1. Lincoln NE
For decades, Lincoln has proved its ability to withstand turbulence in the national economy. Even in the depths of the Great Recession, this prairie city’s unemployment rate sat at a healthy 4.7 percent, compared to parts of the country that spiked as high as 10 percent. Lincoln’s secret? Jobs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and in state government have provided padding and kept folks working during the worst of the recession.
Holding steady in its growth, the city never experienced a housing boom, so there was nowhere for it to fall. Plus, Lincoln scored fourth place on the Silicon Prairie’s 2016 list of cities with the best startup ecosystems in the Midwest, and first on Livability’s list of up-and-coming tech hotspots, proving that this little city on the prairie has a bright — and high tech — future.
Great economy aside, Lincoln was named the “Happiest City in America” by Gallup in 2013, and it’s not hard to see why. Lincoln is anchored by the University of Nebraska, and almost 70 percent of its residents have some sort of higher education. With the university offering a steady roster of artistic and cultural events, and a surprisingly diverse food scene that’s getting cooler every day, there’s always something fun or delicious to experience in Lincoln.