Metropolitan-area population: 1.9 million
Who's hiring now: Affiliated Computer Services, Fort Sam Houston, Washington Mutual
Hottest jobs Senior software developer ($83,900), physician's assistant ($78,400), IT project manager ($76,800), human resources director ($75,800), construction project manager ($66,300)
Low energy costs and a cheap but smart labor force are pulling more Fortune 500 companies here. Washington Mutual chose San Antonio for its new regional operations center, which will create 3,000 new jobs during the next five years. And Microsoft is building a $550 million data center, set to open in 2009.
Beyond that, San Antonio is evolving into a major biodefense hub. Three research labs are already headquartered here, and the city hopes to win a $450 million federal vaccine lab in 2008. In its recent $3.1 billion plan for military base closings, the Department of Defense gave San Antonio the nod to expand its military trauma facilities and defense medical research.
Sources: Conference Board, Global Insight, Moody's Economy.com, PayScale, and Radford Surveys & Consulting.