Where the jobs are

Updated: Jul 31, 2014 10:17 PM UTC | Originally published: Aug 20, 2012

It's still a tough job market, but these 25 counties can make it a lot easier to find work and a great place to live.

Courtesy: Visit Loudoun

Loudoun County, VA

Got data? Loudoun County does. Lots of it. With its expansive fiber networks and a swarm of tech workers, it's a major traffic hub on the East Coast.

Major employers include Verizon Business and AOL, but the latest boom to hit this pocket of Northern Virginia's high-tech economy? Data centers, which now occupy 4.3 million square feet in the county, earning Loudoun the nickname "Data Center Alley."

Easy access to the nation's capital and Dulles International Airport also creates opportunities for government and the airline and freight servicing industries. The planned extension of the Washington Metro into Loudoun, which recently got a green light for funding, is expected to lure more young professionals to the region.

Don’t Be Fooled, It’s Gridlock Time in Washington

Get ready for gridlock.

Despite the passage Thursday of a massive budget bill to fund the government, Congress is unlikely to pass any other major piece of legislation this year—with the possible exception of a long overdue farm bill. Reforms to immigration policy, the National Security Agency and the health care reform law have been, and will remain, under the purview of the White House. President Barack Obama's so-called “year of action” will take place, if anywhere, solely in the realm of the executive branch.

Run down the list of issues, and the cause for pessimism is clear. The Senate last year passed comprehensive immigration reform with the support of 14 Republicans, establishing a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions for immigrants in the country illegally. But the measure remains dead in the House—the GOP majority will release a set of principles this year, but as National Journal reports, “it will not include any concrete proposal." A Republican member from Texas spoke up at the party's weekly luncheon Tuesday only to declare that it was his favorite meeting yet because no one mentioned immigration, a House aide present told TIME.

The immigration reform effort has turned from policy to politics, with Republicans feeling little urgency to pass anything before the midterm elections, even as party leaders fret about another presidential race with Hispanics voting in droves against their party.

“There is no good time to do it,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) says. “It’s tough no matter when you do it.”

Meanwhile, Obama is set to announce executive actions Friday to reform the NSA, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says, and call on Congress to do the rest.

“Many of us are going to be working to do exactly that, but it won’t be easy,” says Schiff, who participated in a meeting with Obama on the issue last week. “[With] our track record, if you were a betting man, you’d have to bet against us.”

Possible reforms include the creation of a public advocate to represent privacy concerns in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and new, increased limits on the NSA’s access to bulk telephone data. But Congress is unlikely to make either change, which privacy advocates say don’t go far enough.

And although reforming aspects of the Affordable Care Act remains a focus for many lawmakers—last week almost 70 Democrats supported a bill that would alert users of breaches involving their personal data—the issue is too toxic on Capitol Hill for any serious movement, especially with the Administration continuing to give Democrats cover by granting exemptions and deadline extensions as it sees fit.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do on Obamacare,” Simpson says. “I don’t know what we can do, we’ve tried just about everything.”

Even the first high-profile legislative fight of the year, extending emergency unemployment insurance—which has the support of the President and the Senate—has faltered. Democrats claim to have a winning issue on their hands, with more than one million Americans losing their benefits, but most Republicans so far aren’t feeling the political pain.

“At this point the Senate seems to appear incapable of passing anything and the President hasn’t proposed anything,” Rep. Tim Price (R-Ga.) says.

The lone bright spot is the farm bill. Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) told reporters Thursday that his intention is to get a bill drafted by next week. Historically, the bill has been easily renewed, but the last five-year measure was passed in 2008. This year the hurdles include dairy price supports, catfish inspection jurisdiction, and a controversial amendment that forbids states from imposing agricultural standards, such as California’s barring of eggs from states that allow their farmers to pen hens in tiny cages. But even as the two sides appear to be coming together, some remain anxious that things could fall apart. As one Senate Democratic leadership aide put to TIME: “In this environment, I don’t think anything is a safe bet.”

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to generate the kind of trust that you need for the majority of people to look to the government to solve the major problems,” says Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who is retiring this year after 24 years in office. “You probably have at least as good, probably better, shot at making a difference outside the institution than within it today.”

When asked what other bipartisan compromises can be expected after the budget bill passed, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) laughed before nodding to the must-pass increase of the debt ceiling: “It’s hard to see a whole lot else being done."

Courtesy: City of Cedar Park

Williamson County, TX

Central Texas' Williamson County hits the bull's eye when it comes to offering incentives for big business. Corporate tax breaks and low property taxes have attracted the likes of top-flight companies such as Dell, which employs 13,000 at its headquarters in Round Rock.

The rapid development of nearby Austin has spurred the growth of so-called "super suburbs" like Williamson County's Round Rock and Cedar Park, where affordable housing, cultural offerings and numerous parks and trails win points with young families.

In a tough economy, the county's incentives are looking particularly enticing to companies. Health care equipment maker Thermo Fisher Scientific said in December it's planning to move some of its production from Wisconsin, bringing 150 new jobs.

Don’t Be Fooled, It’s Gridlock Time in Washington

Get ready for gridlock.

Despite the passage Thursday of a massive budget bill to fund the government, Congress is unlikely to pass any other major piece of legislation this year—with the possible exception of a long overdue farm bill. Reforms to immigration policy, the National Security Agency and the health care reform law have been, and will remain, under the purview of the White House. President Barack Obama's so-called “year of action” will take place, if anywhere, solely in the realm of the executive branch.

Run down the list of issues, and the cause for pessimism is clear. The Senate last year passed comprehensive immigration reform with the support of 14 Republicans, establishing a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions for immigrants in the country illegally. But the measure remains dead in the House—the GOP majority will release a set of principles this year, but as National Journal reports, “it will not include any concrete proposal." A Republican member from Texas spoke up at the party's weekly luncheon Tuesday only to declare that it was his favorite meeting yet because no one mentioned immigration, a House aide present told TIME.

The immigration reform effort has turned from policy to politics, with Republicans feeling little urgency to pass anything before the midterm elections, even as party leaders fret about another presidential race with Hispanics voting in droves against their party.

“There is no good time to do it,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) says. “It’s tough no matter when you do it.”

Meanwhile, Obama is set to announce executive actions Friday to reform the NSA, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says, and call on Congress to do the rest.

“Many of us are going to be working to do exactly that, but it won’t be easy,” says Schiff, who participated in a meeting with Obama on the issue last week. “[With] our track record, if you were a betting man, you’d have to bet against us.”

Possible reforms include the creation of a public advocate to represent privacy concerns in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and new, increased limits on the NSA’s access to bulk telephone data. But Congress is unlikely to make either change, which privacy advocates say don’t go far enough.

And although reforming aspects of the Affordable Care Act remains a focus for many lawmakers—last week almost 70 Democrats supported a bill that would alert users of breaches involving their personal data—the issue is too toxic on Capitol Hill for any serious movement, especially with the Administration continuing to give Democrats cover by granting exemptions and deadline extensions as it sees fit.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do on Obamacare,” Simpson says. “I don’t know what we can do, we’ve tried just about everything.”

Even the first high-profile legislative fight of the year, extending emergency unemployment insurance—which has the support of the President and the Senate—has faltered. Democrats claim to have a winning issue on their hands, with more than one million Americans losing their benefits, but most Republicans so far aren’t feeling the political pain.

“At this point the Senate seems to appear incapable of passing anything and the President hasn’t proposed anything,” Rep. Tim Price (R-Ga.) says.

The lone bright spot is the farm bill. Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) told reporters Thursday that his intention is to get a bill drafted by next week. Historically, the bill has been easily renewed, but the last five-year measure was passed in 2008. This year the hurdles include dairy price supports, catfish inspection jurisdiction, and a controversial amendment that forbids states from imposing agricultural standards, such as California’s barring of eggs from states that allow their farmers to pen hens in tiny cages. But even as the two sides appear to be coming together, some remain anxious that things could fall apart. As one Senate Democratic leadership aide put to TIME: “In this environment, I don’t think anything is a safe bet.”

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to generate the kind of trust that you need for the majority of people to look to the government to solve the major problems,” says Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who is retiring this year after 24 years in office. “You probably have at least as good, probably better, shot at making a difference outside the institution than within it today.”

When asked what other bipartisan compromises can be expected after the budget bill passed, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) laughed before nodding to the must-pass increase of the debt ceiling: “It’s hard to see a whole lot else being done."

Don’t Be Fooled, It’s Gridlock Time in Washington

Get ready for gridlock.

Despite the passage Thursday of a massive budget bill to fund the government, Congress is unlikely to pass any other major piece of legislation this year—with the possible exception of a long overdue farm bill. Reforms to immigration policy, the National Security Agency and the health care reform law have been, and will remain, under the purview of the White House. President Barack Obama's so-called “year of action” will take place, if anywhere, solely in the realm of the executive branch.

Run down the list of issues, and the cause for pessimism is clear. The Senate last year passed comprehensive immigration reform with the support of 14 Republicans, establishing a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions for immigrants in the country illegally. But the measure remains dead in the House—the GOP majority will release a set of principles this year, but as National Journal reports, “it will not include any concrete proposal." A Republican member from Texas spoke up at the party's weekly luncheon Tuesday only to declare that it was his favorite meeting yet because no one mentioned immigration, a House aide present told TIME.

The immigration reform effort has turned from policy to politics, with Republicans feeling little urgency to pass anything before the midterm elections, even as party leaders fret about another presidential race with Hispanics voting in droves against their party.

“There is no good time to do it,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) says. “It’s tough no matter when you do it.”

Meanwhile, Obama is set to announce executive actions Friday to reform the NSA, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says, and call on Congress to do the rest.

“Many of us are going to be working to do exactly that, but it won’t be easy,” says Schiff, who participated in a meeting with Obama on the issue last week. “[With] our track record, if you were a betting man, you’d have to bet against us.”

Possible reforms include the creation of a public advocate to represent privacy concerns in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and new, increased limits on the NSA’s access to bulk telephone data. But Congress is unlikely to make either change, which privacy advocates say don’t go far enough.

And although reforming aspects of the Affordable Care Act remains a focus for many lawmakers—last week almost 70 Democrats supported a bill that would alert users of breaches involving their personal data—the issue is too toxic on Capitol Hill for any serious movement, especially with the Administration continuing to give Democrats cover by granting exemptions and deadline extensions as it sees fit.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do on Obamacare,” Simpson says. “I don’t know what we can do, we’ve tried just about everything.”

Even the first high-profile legislative fight of the year, extending emergency unemployment insurance—which has the support of the President and the Senate—has faltered. Democrats claim to have a winning issue on their hands, with more than one million Americans losing their benefits, but most Republicans so far aren’t feeling the political pain.

“At this point the Senate seems to appear incapable of passing anything and the President hasn’t proposed anything,” Rep. Tim Price (R-Ga.) says.

The lone bright spot is the farm bill. Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) told reporters Thursday that his intention is to get a bill drafted by next week. Historically, the bill has been easily renewed, but the last five-year measure was passed in 2008. This year the hurdles include dairy price supports, catfish inspection jurisdiction, and a controversial amendment that forbids states from imposing agricultural standards, such as California’s barring of eggs from states that allow their farmers to pen hens in tiny cages. But even as the two sides appear to be coming together, some remain anxious that things could fall apart. As one Senate Democratic leadership aide put to TIME: “In this environment, I don’t think anything is a safe bet.”

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to generate the kind of trust that you need for the majority of people to look to the government to solve the major problems,” says Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who is retiring this year after 24 years in office. “You probably have at least as good, probably better, shot at making a difference outside the institution than within it today.”

When asked what other bipartisan compromises can be expected after the budget bill passed, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) laughed before nodding to the must-pass increase of the debt ceiling: “It’s hard to see a whole lot else being done."

Courtesy: Allen CVB

Collin County, TX

Collin County is no longer just the country cousin of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. With an influx of young families -- overall population is up 59% since 2000 -- its vast pool of workers is helping the area develop its own business base.

A few area companies have been hit hard by the sluggish economy. Big employers J.C. Penney and HP both recently streamlined operations. But others are growing fast. Oil and gas firm Denbury Resources is expanding its corporate campus in Plano, which is expected to add hundreds of jobs.

Collin County is keeping its eye on the long term and shoring up infrastructure. Its airport just opened a new runway, and the county is investing millions in road improvement projects.

Mike.Zapata—Mike.Zapata

Denton County, TX

Manufacturing is Peerless in Denton County. Earlier this month, PMFG's Peerless Mfg. Co. broke ground on an 80,000-square-foot facility that will employ more than 150 when fully operational.

In addition to manufacturing, retail is important to the local economy. The presence of the University of North Texas, a major research school, also helps drive the medical services sector.

Like many booming areas in North Texas, a business-friendly climate, combined with the lure of small-town Americana and an affordable way of life, has helped fuel Denton's popularity. Retail and commercial construction are on the upswing. The area's latest development is Belmont, a $1 billion, mixed-use construction project that will add an estimated 3,500 homes when completed.

California Driver Found Not Guilty for Wearing Google Glass While Driving

A California woman who was ticketed in October for wearing Google Glass while driving was found not guilty Wednesday when a judge ruled there was no evidence that she actually used the device while driving.

Cecilia Abadae was ticket for speeding on Interstate 15 on October 29 of last year and received an extra citation for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel. Abadie said she was not using the hands-free device, she was just wearing it, and that it automatically activated when the officer approached her vehicle, NBC San Diego reports.

The citation was for driving with a visible monitor in the car, but Abadie's lawyers argued that Google Glass was invented after that law, which typically refers to TV monitors and video screens, was passed.

“There’s nothing illegal about wearing Google Glass while driving your vehicle," Abadie's attorney said.

[NBC]

California Driver Found Not Guilty for Wearing Google Glass While Driving

A California woman who was ticketed in October for wearing Google Glass while driving was found not guilty Wednesday when a judge ruled there was no evidence that she actually used the device while driving.

Cecilia Abadae was ticket for speeding on Interstate 15 on October 29 of last year and received an extra citation for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel. Abadie said she was not using the hands-free device, she was just wearing it, and that it automatically activated when the officer approached her vehicle, NBC San Diego reports.

The citation was for driving with a visible monitor in the car, but Abadie's lawyers argued that Google Glass was invented after that law, which typically refers to TV monitors and video screens, was passed.

“There’s nothing illegal about wearing Google Glass while driving your vehicle," Abadie's attorney said.

[NBC]

California Driver Found Not Guilty for Wearing Google Glass While Driving

A California woman who was ticketed in October for wearing Google Glass while driving was found not guilty Wednesday when a judge ruled there was no evidence that she actually used the device while driving.