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Posted on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Ann Arbor named a top city for college graduates with science and engineering degrees

By Ben Freed

Ann Arbor popped up on another “Top 10” list this week.

The city scored the No. 9 spot on financial literacy and consumer advocacy site NerdWallet’s top areas for STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — graduates.

The survey took into account the percentage of jobs that require a STEM degree, salaries for STEM and non-STEM jobs and the local economy as judged by the overall unemployment rate.


Algal Scientific and other companies in the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center employ a high percentage of STEM graduates in their labs.

Ben Freed |

“There weren’t many surprises in what we found, a lot of it was what we expected,” NerdWallet analyst Divya Raghavan said. “A lot of the cities on the list are tech hubs, and a lot of them are in the coastal cities.”

Ann Arbor is the only Michigan Midwestern city in the top 10, while Rochester, Minn., the only other Midwestern city on the list, checked in at No. 15.

The San Jose metropolitan area topped the list as the best place for holders of STEM degrees and Northern California counterpart San Francisco also was in the top 5.

According to the study, the average salary for jobs in Ann Arbor that require a STEM bachelors degree or higher is $83,759, while the average for all other jobs comes in at $47,198.

According to the Washtenaw County economic forecast commissioned by, high-wage jobs paying more than $62,000 per year have been growing at a faster rate than any other sector.

STEM jobs are spread across a number of sectors in the economy, and indications in the economic outlook point to continued growth job in categories dominated by people with science, engineering and math degrees. There are expected to be nearly 200 more private sector scientific research and development jobs in the next 3 years in the area, as well as 230 new architectural and engineering jobs.

Expanding technology companies also play a role in the STEM hiring spree in the area. Startup companies located in incubators like the Tech Brewery and SPARK Central have the potential to grow rapidly, and established companies like Barracuda Networks, PRIME Research and Menlo Innovations that have moved their offices into Ann Arbor's downtown "tech hub" have been hiring at high rates.

Those gains do not include the primary engine that drives STEM hiring in the area — the University of Michigan. The NerdWallet survey points to the university as a primary STEM employer and also notes programs like the M-STEM Academy at U-M encourage students at a young age to explore degrees and careers in science and math-focused fields.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Wow jcj - maybe you should have invested the time you spent replying negatively to this article looking for a new place to live? My family and I chose to live in Ann Arbor and are happy we made that choice, regardless of whether it makes lists or not. Do we think Ann Arbor is the center of the universe? Of course not. But it's our home and we're glad we live here. The fact it keeps making these lists just shows others feel the same way. If you don't like reading these lists, perhaps you should just skip the articles and work on becoming a less negative person.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:54 a.m.

I did not publish these list! I just made them available.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

Here is a list of worst at the U of M. In the interest of equal time. 1 Cost of living and tuition (one of the most expensive public schools) 2 Gross dorm food 3 Incompetent GSIs (graduate student instructors) 4 Long and cold winters/so much snow! 5 Parking or lack thereof 6 Secluded North Campus 7 Tough workload 8 University Health Service (UHS) 9 You are just a number in your classes. 10 Hookup culture (if you're looking for a relationship) I'm Done!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

Here is a list of worst in Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor may be #9 on this list. But Ann is #1 when it comes to meaningless list.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

When they are published, they don't force themselves on you - you choose to click on the link and read them. So maybe you shouldn't if they upset you so much.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Ben But you are the ones that seek them out. Correct? I don't think they come looking for you.

Ben Freed

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

jcj, We're not the ones who publish these lists, although many of us do think that Ann Arbor is a pretty great place. This list gave us a new way to look at jobs numbers that we are constantly pouring over here to better understand the functioning of the local economy. I hope you were able to enjoy some of the context that this list and those numbers are able to give to our overall reporting on the area.