Metropolitan-area population: 1.5 million
Who's hiring now: Deloitte & Touche, Hyatt Hotels, Samsung, University of Texas at Austin
Hottest jobs Senior software engineer ($97,800), senior electronics design engineer ($97,500), senior software developer ($92,700), computer hardware engineer ($83,600), semiconductor process engineer ($81,600)
Like other U.S. high-tech hubs, Austin was hit hard in the tech bust and was slow to start growing again. But grown it has: The region's employment level now exceeds its dotcom-era high.
Austin's rep has largely rested on its dual status as the headquarters of Dell and a place where chipmakers cluster. But more and more startups are gaining footholds here too. New patents issued to Austin firms rose by 20 percent in the past year, while venture capital investment jumped by 50 percent. At the same time, the old standbys are adding muscle to the labor market: Dell and the University of Texas, the area's largest public-sector employer, are in hiring mode, and Samsung's upcoming chip plant will ultimately create 800 new openings. Another plus: The housing market isn't suffering as much locally as in most other parts of the country.
Sources: Conference Board, Global Insight, Moody's Economy.com, PayScale, and Radford Surveys & Consulting.