Most people associate Flagstaff with the Grand Canyon, and with good reason: the city is the best destination for tourists visiting Grand Canyon National Park. However, there's more to Flagstaff than tourism. The city is home to the Lowell Observatory, which discovered Pluto in 1930, and the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, which discovered Charon, Pluto's satellite.
The city was founded in 1855 and takes its name from the Ponderosa Pine that was stripped to serve as a flagpole by the Army surveyors who were mapping a road from the Rio Grande to Fort Tejon in California. In its early years, the city's economy centered around ranching, railroads, and lumber. Today, however, Flagstaff's diverse economy includes science, manufacturing, education and tourism.
Flagstaff's cost of living matches the national average, although the median household income of $47,671, according to Forbes, is below the national median of $53,046. Home prices are above average, with the median home price of $191,300 about $10,000 above national figures.
Flagstaff Job Opportunities
The mix of jobs in Flagstaff, AZ includes sales, tourism, hospitality, and professional services. Other Flagstaff, AZ jobs are in transportation, construction, and education. Northern Arizona University, one of only three public Arizona universities, is located in Flagstaff, as is the Coconino Community College.
The industrial park area by I-17 and I-40 is home to W.L. Gore & Associates, makers of Gore-Tex fabrics, as well as ice cream cone manufacturer Joy Cone, Nestle Purina Pet Care, a Walgreen's distribution center, and SCA Tissue, a toilet tissue company. Opportunities abound for good jobs in Prescott, a nearby city, as well.
Flagstaff Employment Trends
Those looking for jobs in Flagstaff will do well in the professional and service occupational sectors. While the unemployment rate in Flagstaff was 7 percent as of July 2014, as compared to the national rate of just 6 percent, Forbes predicts a job growth rate of 2.4 percent next year, making it number 122 nationwide. The city also cracks the top 100 for business and careers, coming in at number 83. High-tech employment comes in at 4.1 percent, placing Flagstaff in the upper half.
Flagstaff's unique location near the Grand Canyon offers conservation, forestry, and mining opportunities. Tourism and hospitality jobs are also in abundance. Flagstaff also attracts top quality educators; Northland Preparatory Academy was ranked #52 in USA News's Top 100 High Schools. Construction jobs in Flagstaff are also experiencing growth.