Best US Cities for Pharmacists

OCTOBER 29, 2015
If you’ve ever wondered what are the best US cities for pharmacists, look no further than this article.
 
Using a combination of datasets, I have ranked nearly 400 US cities to find the best places for pharmacists. Scores were calculated using weighted percentages of each city’s average annual pharmacist salary, number of pharmacist positions, cost of living index, and location quotient—a factor used to reflect the demand for pharmacists in a particular region.
 
Cities that made Livability’s 2016 Top 100 Best Places to Live list were given a bonus score based on where they ranked on that list.

Here are the top 10 US cities for pharmacists:

1. Gadsden, Alabama (92.5%)
Topping the list, Gadsden is the perfect combination of high annual pharmacist salary, low cost of living, and above average concentration of employed pharmacists. Gadsden’s average annual pharmacist salary ($155,940) was second-highest on the list, just below Santa Cruz, California ($164,850).

2. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas (92.3%)
Just a few fractions of a percentage point below Gadsden is Brownsville-Harlingen. This metropolitan area has the 8th-highest average annual pharmacist salary ($139,810) and 6th-lowest cost of living.

3. Anniston-Oxford, Alabama (84.5%)
The metropolitan area of Anniston and Oxford is the second location in Alabama to make this list. Both cities combined have the 5th-highest average annual pharmacist salary ($140,830) with a relatively low cost of living.

4. Huntington, West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky (83.6%)
The average annual pharmacist salary for Huntington and Ashland ($126,290) is the lowest of all cities in the top 10, but still places in the top 20% overall. These areas benefit from having the third-highest location quotient, indicating that the number of pharmacists working in these cities is more than double the national average.

5. Knoxville, Tennessee (82.8%)
Knoxville employs the highest number of pharmacists (890) on the top 10 list, and the city’s average annual pharmacist salary ($126,880) is also well above the national average.

6. Dalton, Georgia (82.1%)
Despite having the 27th worst location quotient score, Dalton makes the top 10 list due to its extremely high average annual pharmacist salary ($139,500) and low cost of living.

7. Danville, Virginia (82%)
Despite employing just 70 pharmacists, Danville slots in at #7, and its average annual pharmacist salary ($133,690) places it in the top 10% overall.

8. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (81.9%)
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission is the second metropolitan area in Texas to make this list, continuing the trend of southern US cities appearing in the top 10. This area employed 440 pharmacists in 2014, with an average annual salary of $132,830.

9. Kingsport, Tennessee; Bristol, Virginia (81.6%)
The combination of Kingsport and Bristol has the highest cost of living score of the top 10 cities, but it is bolstered by an above average annual pharmacist salary ($129,600) and high concentration of employed pharmacists.

10. Canton-Massillon, Ohio (81.8%)
The home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame rounded out the list by scoring above average across the board.
 
Rank City Pharmacist Jobs Location Quotient Pharmacist Salary Cost of Living Livability
Top 100
Score
1 Gadsden, AL 100 1.28 $155,940 80 - 92.5%
2 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 300 1.06 $139,810 76 - 92.3%
3 Anniston-Oxford, AL 90 0.98 $140,830 84 - 84.5%
4 Huntington, WV; Ashland, KY 470 2.04 $126,290 81 - 83.6%
5 Knoxville, TN 890 1.25 $126,880 81 - 82.8%
6 Dalton, GA 100 0.69 $139,500 82 - 82.1%
7 Danville, VA 70 0.90 $133,690 81 - 82%
8 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 440 0.86 $132,830 83 - 81.9%
9 Kingsport, TN; Bristol, VA 300 1.21 $129,600 85 - 81.6%
10 Canton-Massillon, OH 370 1.04 $128,280 82 - 81.1%
 
To find out how more notable US cities ranked, refer to this table:
 
City Rank Pharmacist Jobs Location Quotient Pharmacist Salary Cost of Living Livability
Top 100
Score
Milwaukee, WI 43 1640 0.93 $125,970 85 - 73%
Rochester, MN 59 390 1.72 $123,080 101 #1 70%
Santa Cruz, CA 64 160 0.83 $164,850 199 #19 69.2%
Sacramento, CA 75 1780 0.97 $132,180 113 - 67.3%
Napa, CA 100 130 0.89 $135,990 157 #68 64%
San Francisco, CA 107 3520 0.77 $137,340 243 - 63.4%
Anchorage, AK 116 310 0.82 $134,480 143   62.1%
St. Louis, MO 141 2830 1.01 $119,180 84 - 59.1%
Baltimore, MD 142 2810 1.01 $120,030 88 - 59.1%
Nashville, TN 143 2560 1.45 $120,500 99 - 58.8%
Los Angeles, CA 149 10390 0.87 $128,630 164 - 58.3%
Cleveland, OH 152 2170 1.00 $117,440 79 - 58%
Atlantic City, NJ 178 270 0.95 $121,280 100 - 52.7%
Phoenix, AZ 192 4280 1.09 $119,210 99 - 50.2%
Detroit, MI 194 4130 1.03 $113,570 73 - 50%
Atlanta, GA 219 5180 1.01 $118,210 97 - 47.5%
Las Vegas, NV 222 1400 0.75 $119,990 99 - 47.3%
Philadelphia, PA 234 6240 1.07 $116,910 96 - 45.4%
New Orleans, LA 241 1300 1.11 $117,210 99 - 44.6%
Orlando, FL 243 2430 1.05 $116,080 92 - 44.2%
Seattle, WA 255 3050 0.81 $120,260 154 - 42%
Dallas, TX 257 5650 0.83 $119,060 106 - 41.6%
Indianapolis, IN 280 2140 1.06 $112,430 89 - 38.3%
Miami, FL 307 7000 1.38 $115,170 119 - 34.8%
New York, NY 313 11390 0.98 $117,040 168 - 33.9%
Chicago, IL 317 8770 0.92 $115,540 103 - 33.6%
Houston, TX 320 4610 0.75 $115,180 98 - 33.2%
Denver, CO 326 3160 1.11 $115,060 115 - 32.3%
Honolulu, HI 332 880 0.91 $116,650 199 #37 31.9%
Pittsburgh, PA 335 2580 1.06 $101,840 84 - 31.6%
Washington D.C, VA 371 4900 0.77 $115,320 154 - 25%
Boston, MA 383 4760 0.85 $113,310 161 - 21.9%
 
Methodology:
Scores were calculated using weighted percentages from the following categories: average annual pharmacist salary, number of pharmacist jobs, cost of living index, location quotient, and placement in Livability’s 2016 Top 100 Best Places to Live.

Annual pharmacist salary from 394 cities was collected from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 data. This category was weighted most to reflect the importance of salary when searching for employment.
 
It is important to note that BLS groups some of its datasets into multiple cities. For example, the “Los Angeles” grouping also includes data from Long Beach and Santa Ana; however, for simplicity’s sake, it was included in the second table as just “Los Angeles.”

Cost of living scores were collected from Sperling’s Best Places and compare a city’s cost of food, housing, utilities, transportation, and health care with the national average. The lower the cost of living score, the lower the cost to live in that particular city versus the national average.

Location quotient was included to measure the concentration of pharmacists working in a particular area compared with the national average. Thus, a smaller location quotient may suggest a lower demand for pharmacists, while a higher number may correlate a higher demand.

The number of pharmacist jobs per city was weighted least, yet included to reward cities that employed a higher number of pharmacists.

Finally, cities that made Livability’s 2016 Top 100 Best Places to Live list were given an up to 10% multiplier bonus, depending on where they ranked. Livability’s rankings were created from 45 data points across 8 categories.

Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacist working at a large health insurance plan on the east coast. Additionally he works per diem at a retail pharmacy chain. He graduated from MCPHS University - Boston in 2015 and subsequently completed a PGY-1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency. His professional interests include pharmacy legislation and managed care pharmacy. He can be followed on Twitter at @toshea125.
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