Especially now, plentiful job opportunities are key to making a great place to live. These 25 counties have experienced the most job growth over the last nine years.
Towns include: Iowa City
Job growth (2000-2009): 22.7%
While Johnson might house a community of recent University of Iowa graduates and other intellectuals who are attracted to Iowa City's status as the third UNESCO "City of Literature," the county has plenty of jobs for those who aren't studying or working on the next great American novel. (The university is home to the top-ranked Iowa Writers Workshop.)
The university and its system of hospitals and clinics have helped boost jobs 12 percent in the past decade -- the county's unemployment rate is less than half of the national average. -- J.S.
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Last updated July 13 2010: 5:14 PM ET