For the second year running, ForbesWoman has gathered the data and crunched the numbers to determine the U.S. cities that offer the most to working moms.
To calculate our list we began with the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. while working under the notion that "best" means different things to different women. Safety, of course, is important, and great schools and health care also all play a part — but when it comes to quality of life for high-achieving women, there are other components to consider.
Job opportunities, high earnings potential and a budget-friendly cost of living come into play in choosing a great city, not to mention employment rates (ideally high) as well as women's average weekly earnings. But it's also important for moms to look into other factors too, like health care. What good is your six-figure salary if you can't reach a doctor when your child is running a fever?
With regard to health care, what's important to moms is access to a local pediatrician who can be trusted. We worked with HealthGrades.com, a leader in health care ratings, to rank each city by practicing pediatricians. The top city for children's physicians? New York, followed by Chicago (the latter of which was kept out of the top 20 by its higher-than-average unemployment rate).
Education is another key factor when it comes to choosing a city, so we incorporated the expenditure per pupil for the public school districts in each metro area. Buffalo, N.Y., one of the smallest cities on our list, boasts the top-spending per-pupil school system.
Cost of living also ranks highly on the list of considerations when choosing the right city to raise a child. We looked at the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. This index is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the president's Council of Economic Advisors as the most reliable source for city-by-city comparisons. While it rates Washington, D.C., as one of America's most costly metro areas, Pittsburgh combines a low cost of living with good school systems and low crime rates to make it onto our top 10 list.
So how did New York, last year's No. 1 city for working mothers, get displaced by unassuming Minneapolis? This year we placed greater emphasis on women's earnings, which we think play a major role in the best cities for women to work and raise children.
And at only 216 crimes per 100,000 residents annually, Minneapolis has the lowest violent crime rate, which means there are fewer murders, rapes, robberies and assaults than any other major U.S. city, as well as the second-lowest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent.
In the No. 2 position this year is Washington, D.C., where women's earnings are the best in the nation and the unemployment rate is the lowest of our ranked cities — although cost of living still runs high. For a woman looking for financial success in a bustling metro, the country's capitol is top-notch, and also boasts an excellent school system. Its higher-than-average cost of living (ranking the 48th-highest of 50 cities) is offset by women's high earnings potential.
The bottom cities on the list haven't changed significantly since last year, with Las Vegas still bringing up the rear. That's because of its high unemployment rate (14.1 percent), low number of practicing pediatricians and 680-plus violent crimes per 100,000 residents each year.
Also in the bottom 10 are three Florida cities: Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami, where school systems spend less per pupil on education and crime is more prevalent.
© 2012 Forbes.com