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Best Cities for Black Professionals [2024]

February 12, 2024
Where are the best cities for black professionals? Discover how we used data-driven insights to identify the top locations and rank our choices!

In celebration of Black History Month this year, we partnered with Apartment List’s Black ERG, "Black@A-List", to create this data-driven report that uncovers the best cities for Black professionals.

While the "best" place to live will always be subjective, we sought to give you a comprehensive scoring metric based on a wide variety of factors, including basic demographic data like income levels and population share to metrics that dove deep on lifestyle such as percentage of Black teachers and doctors in a given city. Read on to learn more about our methodology, how we chose our top five, and to download our data and review it for yourself.

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Top Cities for Black Professionals

How We Ranked the Best Cities for Black Professionals

Black@A-List came together to outline key components that would be relevant to Black professionals looking for a great city to live in. We sought to create metrics that would speak to the lived experiences of members of the African Diaspora who graduated from college and are part of the workforce. The essential urban features for a great community that our team landed on ultimately fell into four broad categories: Community & Representation, Economic Opportunity, Housing Opportunity, and Business Environment.

These four scores, and the individual statistics that comprise them, are weighted and summed to arrive at a final composite score between 0-10. Lower scores indicate a combination of less Black representation, worse economic outcomes for black households, and greater economic gaps between black and non-Black individuals. We acknowledge that this ranking will capture some, but not all of the socio-economic inequalities that exist between races and locations throughout the United States. For a more detailed look at the numbers behind the rankings, see the data section below.

Community & Representation

This score identifies regions that have a sizable (and growing) Black community that is well-represented in various key occupations. This score considers the share of a city’s population who is Black, whether the Black population has gotten larger or smaller over the past decade, and whether the Black community is proportionally represented in the teachers, doctors, lawyers, and managers who live there.

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Economic Opportunity

The Economic Opportunity score identifies strong job markets that offer competitive wages for Black professionals. This score considers the employment rate and college graduation rate among Black adults, the median income among Black workers, and income equity - the ratio of Black incomes to non-Black incomes.

Housing Opportunity

The Housing Opportunity score measures affordability and equity within local housing markets. This score considers the Black homeownership rate, how that homeownership rate compares to non-Black households, and the Black cost burden rate: the percentages of Black households who spend over 30% of their monthly income on housing costs.

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Business Environment

Business Environment measures the percentage of local businesses that are Black-owned, and similar to the community and representation score, whether the Black ownership is proportional to the overall Black population.

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Key Findings About the Top Places for Black Professionals

We analyzed 80+ cities to determine the Best Cities for Black Professionals:

  • Texas is one of the best states for black professionals. 4 of the Top 10 cities are Texan (San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin) indicating that it’s a promising place for Black Professionals.
  • Colorado Springs, CO ranks #5 for economic opportunities for Black professionals, despite ranking lower for community and representation.
  • States with a large Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) presence score high. This is shown as the top HBCUs reside in Georgia, Washington DC, North Carolina, and Maryland.

 The Capitol and Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC.

1. Washington, DC

Coming in first place is Washington, DC! With a final score of 72.4, DC is the best city for Black professionals. It ranks well on all scores, holding the #1 position for economic opportunity, #3 for housing opportunity, and #5 for business environment. DC’s lowest ranking is for its community & representation, which ranks #16.

Home to two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Howard University and the University of District Columbia, it’s no surprise that over one-third of the region’s Black population has a college degree, well above average. Combined with a strong job market (92% of Black residents are employed), the median income among DC’s Black population is higher than anywhere else in the country at $52,988.

DC is also a great place to be for entrepreneurs, and a quarter of businesses in DC are Black-owned. You can pick up a new novel at MahoganyBooks, grab some fresh flowers at Lee’s Flower Shop, or get in a hard workout at Cut Seven!

Homeownership is a major contributor to racial wealth disparities in the United States. Nationally, the Black homeownership rate trails all other racial groups and is over 30 percentage points lower than white non-Hispanics. In DC, and the gap for black home ownership relative to population is 17%. At the same time, 51% of Black households own their homes, putting them at #8 on our list for homeownership.

Washington, DCPercentage
Black Population Share28%
Black Homeownership51%
Black Teachers22%
Black Doctors29%
Black Lawyers12%
Black Managers20%

 Atlanta, Georgia downtown aerial view.

2. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is awarded second place for the best cities for Black professionals with a final score of 69.74! Atlanta ranks well for most factors, such as #1 for community & representation, #10 for housing opportunity, #11 for economic opportunity, and #2 for it’s business environment.

Atlanta is known for its Atlanta University Center, which is the consortium of four HBCUs: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College. This density of HBCUs may explain why Atlanta is home to a large Black community (36% of all residents) with a high share of adults holding a Bachelor's degree (32%). The median income for these professionals is lower than in Washington DC but more closely aligned with non-Black incomes in the area. Furthermore, the employment rate for Black residents is 93%.

Atlanta boasts both a large and growing Black population. In 2021, 36% of the region’s population was Black, up 3% from 2019. The population is growing as one of the highest rates in the country according to our analysis (second only to Las Vegas), signaling an increasingly strong business climate. Black-owned businesses are quite common in Atlanta at a 34% share. Catch a southern meal at the Atlanta Breakfast Club, go skating at Cascade Skating, or pick up some tea at Just Add Honey Tea Company.

Lastly, 49% of the Black population in Atlanta are homeowners. Similar to DC, the cost burden is lower than average at 41%.

Atlanta, GAPercentage
Black Population Share36%
Black Homeownership49%
Black Teachers34%
Black Doctors32%
Black Lawyers21%
Black Managers26%

 Top view of downtown San Antonio in Texas USA

3. San Antonio, TX

Moving to the Lone Star State, there are two Texas cities that rank in our Top 5. San Antonio comes first, with a final score of 65.44 and top 10 rankings in economic opportunity (#2) and housing opportunity (#7), with a moderate score for community & representation (#10) and business environment (#20).

Compared to other cities, San Antonio’s Black population is rather small at 9% of all residents, around half of the average. However, the local Black employment rate is relatively high (94%) as is the Black median income ($38,151). Black incomes are 4% lower than the rest of the population, which is much closer than in other cities on our list, even DC and Atlanta which received stronger overall scores.

On the other hand, the share of Black graduates is high at 31%. Texas has the second most HBCUs after Alabama. While the state itself is an HBCU powerhouse, there’s only one university in San Antonio. This may or may not explain why the share of professionals is lower compared to our other top two.

Despite this, there are still plenty of Black-owned businesses to support in San Antonio. Start your day off by taking a boxing class at Black Stallion Boxing Plus. Then eat some lunch at Jamaica Jamaica Cuisine. Lastly, spend the remainder of the day shopping at Gold Diamonds.

While the Black homeownership rate is higher than average at 44%, the homeownership gap (Black homeownership rate - non-Black homeownership rate) quite low at -19%. Perhaps this could be explained by San Antonio’s overall homeownership rate, which is also lower than the state’s average. Additionally, the lower homeownership gap could explain the cost burden rate also being lower than average at 41%.

San Antonio, TXPercentage
Black Population Share9%
Black Homeownership44%
Black Teachers8%
Black Doctors8%
Black Lawyers10%
Black Managers7%

 Houston, Texas, USA downtown city skyline.

4. Houston, TX

Keeping our focus on Texas, the next city on our list is Houston at number four. With a final score of 63.01, Houston boasts a strong business environment score (#3 in the nation), community and representation score (#4), and economic opportunity score (#10). But higher housing costs hurt Houston’s housing opportunity score, which ranks #21. 44% of black households in Houston spend more than 30% of this income on housing expenses, up 2% from 2019.

Although Houston ranks lower overall in Black population share at 19%, it does have a larger Black population than nearby San Antonio. Furthermore, the community is well-represented in some critical occupations: 20% of teachers are Black, as are 21% of doctors. Houston is also home to the HBCU Texas Southern University, helping a job market when the median Black income is several thousand dollars above average.

Similarly, 18% of local businesses are Black-owned, more than any other part of Texas. From the Mitochondria Gallery to Ten Skyncare and Wisdom’s Vegan Bakery, Houston has it all!

Houston, TXPercentage
Black Population Share19%
Black Homeownership42%
Black Teachers20%
Black Doctors21%
Black Lawyers14%
Black Managers14%

 Dallas, Texas cityscape with blue sky at sunset, Texas

5. Palm Bay, FL

Palm Bay hit our #5 spot this year, knocking Dallas out of our top rankings. With a final score of 59.65, Palm Bay rose in position due to housing opportunity, where it took first place, likely due to its high Black homeownership rate of 61%. Black employment rates are also strong in Palm Bay at 93%.

Compared to other Florida metros, Palm Bay offers a relatively lower cost of living, including housing and essential goods. This can make it easier for Black professionals to afford living comfortably and save for the future, and it also goes toward explaining the relatively low cost burden rate of 38% for the city. The median income for Black workers is also lower, however, at $31,401 a year.

The Black population share in Palm Bay is currently 12%, which puts it on the lower end of our top 5 list. It also has a lower share of Black-owned businesses at 10%, down 2% from 2019. However, Palm Bay has a growing community of Black entrepreneurs, with organizations and resources available to support them. This thriving community works to ensure that Palm Bay remains a great place for Black business owners.

Houston, TXPercentage
Black Population Share12%
Black Homeownership61%
Black Teachers7%
Black Doctors14%
Black Lawyers2%
Black Managers7%

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Overview of the 5 Best Cities for Black Professionals

CityBlack Population ShareHomeownership RateBlack Employment RateShare of Teachers Who Are BlackShare of Doctors Who Are Black
Washington, DC28%51%92%22%29%
Atlanta, GA36%49%93%34%32%
San Antonio, TX9%44%94%8%8%
Houston, TX19%42%90%20%21%
Palm Bay, Fl12%61%93%7%14%

Best Cities for Black Professionals Data

Use the table below to compare the cities and their respective scores. Below the Rankings table you will find more granular information about the data and how our scores were calculated.

Best Cities for Black Professionals Rankings

RankCityFinal Score
1Washington, DC72.1
2Atlanta, GA69.7
3San Antonio, TX65.4
4Houston, TX63.0
5Palm Bay, FL59.7
6Dallas, TX59.1
7Austin, TX58.7
8Colorado Springs, CO58.5
9Lakeland, FL58.5
10Charlotte, NC58.5

Best Cities for Black Professionals by Weighted Factor

RankCityCommunity & RepresentationEconomic OpportunityHousing OpportunityBusiness Environment
1Washington, DC16135
2Atlanta, GA111102
3San Antonio, TX1021120
4Houston, TX410233
5Palm Bay, FL2839119
6Dallas, TX57397
7Austin, TX3642425
8Colorado Springs, CO4851266
9Lakeland, FL638144
10Charlotte, NC3211529

A total of 76 locations were included in this analysis. For individual factors (e.g., employment rate, median income), weights, and data sources, please view the complete data.

Each factor was converted into a normalized score from 0 to 100 according to the distribution of values across locations. Normalized scores were then weighted and summed to give every location a final composite score between 0 and 100. A score of 100 would mean a location ranked first in every individual factor in the analysis.

Black@A-List Collaboration

We wrote this report in collaboration with the Apartment List Black ERG, also known as, "Black@A-List". Pictured below are a few of those employees who helped us with this report!

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Apartment List are meant to serve as a safe space for Apartment List employees. They meet frequently to chat about their shared experiences, plan company-wide events, and form allyship across the company. Apartment List has 5 different ERGs that each represent a different identity group: Black, Asian, Latinx, Women, and LGBTQ+.

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Apartment List
AUTHOR
Apartment List is a technology-driven rental marketplace with nearly 6 million units on the platform, reaching millions of renters on their path to find their next home each month. Apartment List was founded with the mission to deliver every renter a home they love and the value they deserve. Read More
Black@A-List
AUTHOR
The Black@A-List or Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) is an Apartment List group that strives to provide a safe space for Black/African American employees and their allies to share their stories, learn about the culture, and be supported in all personal and professional endeavors. . Read More

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