The Internet loves a good list (sometimes bad ones too). Ranking things is how we know how awesome we are, and/or how outraged we should be that we did/didn’t make an arbitrary list.
For whatever reason, Texas saw its cities on a bunch of different lists, a few of which we break down below.
Most Financially Irresponsible Cities
Here’s one for the haters: It’s a list of the top 15 most financially-irresponsible cities in the US, from BadCredit.com. The methodology here is based on looking at the average credit score, average debt, average balance on credit cards, and the credit utilization ratio of the population of over 200 cities.
Texas cities spend a lot of time on that list, with San Antonio taking the #3 spot overall, Dallas coming in at #4, Corpus Christi landing at #6, Austin placing #8, Houston getting #9, and Waco landing #10. That’s 40 percent Texas on a nationwide list!
Curiously, however, while we dominate in the number of cities, we’re not the state that’s featured most prominently at the top: three of the top five cities are in Alaska, proving either that Alaska is very expensive (it is) and people are desperate to borrow their way out of it, or that the cold weather and wilderness attracts damaged drifters who have gone to the frigid north to avoid the responsibilities they failed to manage elsewhere.
Regardless, the list doesn’t offer a ton of analysis for why these particular Texas cities are populated by people with poor credit and a lot of debt—though it does speculate that, perhaps because of our low unemployment rate, people around these parts are inclined to take on more debt, with the confidence that they can pay it off.
Best Cities For Jobseekers
Texas’ booming economy (until the falling price of oil soon turns us into a Mad Max-like hellscape, naturally) keeps us featured prominently in lists like NerdWallet’s annual top 20 “best cities for jobseekers.” The 2015 version of that list is 30 percent Texas, with Fort Worth (#2), Austin (#6), Irving, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Lubbock (between #11-#20) all placing.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this list is that, despite a strong showing at #6, Austin is actually on a downward trend: Last year, it took the top spot, but affordability issues have made it a little less appealing. (The average monthly rent of over $1,000 is the highest in NerdWallet’s top ten.) Fort Worth, meanwhile, is sitting pretty with its 30 percent growth rate since 2009, and jobs at AMR, American Airlines, and Lockheed Martin.
Irving, Corpus, Laredo, and Lubbock—not necessarily the usual suspects for this sort of list—don’t get a lot of analysis here.
The Milken Institute’s annual rankings of Best-Performing Cities was also Texas-centric, with the state showcasing more top tens than anywhere else. Milken looks at both large and small cities, and Texas does well on each list.
On the large cities list, Austin’s the top jewel of a chart that ranks cities by how well they create and sustain jobs and economic growth—based on the type of job, wage/salary, and technology growth. The state capital did get bumped out of the top spot by San Francisco, whose affordability issues make Austin’s seem downright prosaic, but in addition to taking #2, Texas metro areas Houston, Forth Worth/Arlington, Dallas/Plano/Irving, and San Antonio took the last four spots in the top ten.
This list runs for 200 cities, and there’s plenty of data to parse, if you’re so inclined. On the small cities ranking, meanwhile, Texas grabs three top-ten spots, in Victoria (#3), Midland (#6), and Bryan-College Station (#8).
Put all of these lists together, and one thing is clear: Texas cities, which are among the most fiscally-irresponsible, well-performing, and attractive to job-seekers in the country, can be ranked in basically any order, depending on how you tweak your algorithms or criteria. In other words, lists are meaningless—but we place well on them, so go Texas!