Capitol Hill BuildingWith college graduations beginning en masse in the next few weeks, many soon-to-be graduates are pondering the question of where life will take them–at least their professional lives. A study just out suggests the 10 best and worst cities in the U.S. for starting their careers. Some may surprise you.

The study by WalletHub, a financial advice website, says, “While Americans in their 20s are now 40% less likely to move than they were 30 years ago, according to U.S. Census data, employment opportunities do vary significantly based on simple geography.”

So, where should they relocate?

The Top 10 Best Cities for Starting a Career are:

  1. Washington, DC 3/3
  2. Denver, CO 9/5
  3. Irving, TX 32/2
  4. Seattle, WA 4/20
  5. Minneapolis, MN 11/24
  6. San Francisco, CA 18/11
  7. Austin, TX 8/30
  8. Dallas, TX 27/27
  9. Charlotte, NC 7/63
  10. Houston, TX 30/23

The numbers after the city names represent each as it is ranked for quality of life and professional opportunities.

The Top 10 Worst Cities for Starting a Career (with the worst on top) are:

  1. Modesto, CA 147/146
  2. Port St. Lucie, FL 146/139
  3. Stockton, CA 141/138
  4. San Bernardino, CA 148/126
  5. Akron, OH 125/144
  6. Detroit, MI 126/143
  7. Columbus, GA 89/150
  8. Fayetteville, NC 101/147
  9. Cleveland, OH 97/149
  10. Riverside, CA 128/128

According to the study, “WalletHub analyzed and ranked the 150 most populous cities in the United States based on the following 18 metrics, which were designed to collectively represent most of the issues that young people have in mind when looking for a place to set down roots – from professional opportunities to the odds of finding a mate. With that said, the two overall categories listed below were intended for organizational purposes only. In other words, they were used to group the metrics but were not taken into account when deciding the weight assigned to each metric.”

The metrics for Quality of Life were (including their weight):

  • Average Annual Income, Adjusted for Cost of Living: 1
  • Arts, Leisure & Recreation Establishments Per 100,000 Inhabitants: 1
  • Percentage of the Population Ages 25-34: 1
  • Mating Opportunities (share of population that has never been married): 1
  • Strength of Social Ties: 1
  • Percentage of the Population with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: 1
  • Population Growth: 0.5
  • Average 2-Bedroom Rent: 0.5
  • Housing Costs: 0.5

The metrics for Professional Opportunities were (including their weight):

  • Number of Entry-Level Jobs Per 100,000 Inhabitants: 1
  • Monthly Median Starting Salary: 1
  • Technology Jobs as a Percentage of Total City Employment: 1
  • Annual Job Growth, Adjusted for Population Growth: 1
  • Median Income Growth Rate: 1
  • Economic Mobility: 1
  • Workforce Diversity: 1
  • Current Unemployment Rate: 0.5
  • Entrepreneurial Activity: 0.5

John S. Kiernan, writes at the WalletHub site, “With many employers adopting a wait-and-see approach to both the economic recovery and Obamacare and many young people refusing to adjust expectations in the face of stiff competition, the effective unemployment rate for Americans ages 18 – 29 is currently 15.5 percent. There is nevertheless reason for optimism among the graduating class of 2014 as well as the scores of young people who have become so disillusioned with the job market that they have given up their search for employment. Not only do more employers plan to hire recent college grads this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but hiring in general is also on the rise.”

Other fun tidbits from the survey include the fact that Atlanta, GA., is considered to have the highest quality of life but is only ranked 106th for professional opportunities for a combined rank of 16th. Apparently, quality of life is rated much higher than professional opportunities.

The best city for professional opportunities is Aurora, CO., which flips its statistics with Atlanta. It is only 106th when it comes to quality of life and that results in a combined ranking of 17th, just one tick below Atlanta.



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