15 Best Cities for College Grads to Find Work—and Live

Best cities are based on job availability, average salary, average rent

Houston is one of the cities on the list, and will grab your attention for its low rents. (AP photo) Houston is one of the cities on the list, and will grab your attention for its low rents. (AP photo)

More than half of employers say they plan to hire recent college grads this year, according to a survey by CareerBuilder—but where? The job website released on May 23 the “Top 15 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list, the fifth iteration of its collaboration with Apartments.com.

The list names the 15 best cities for recently graduated job seekers based on several criteria. First, cities were chosen from the top 100 market areas, as determined by CareerBuilder and its internship and first-time job seekers division, CareerRookie, based on the number of entry level jobs available between January and April. The inventory of entry-level positions was weighted most heavily, as was the unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list excluded cities where the unemployment rate was above 10%.

The list also considered the average salary at an entry-level position in April. Finally, it factored in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment, based on analysis by Apartments.com in April.

“When starting out, it can be tempting to focus on only one aspect of a city,” Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager for Apartments.com, said in a press release. “However, it’s important to carefully evaluate a variety of options before choosing where to settle down. The first step should be identifying cities that offer the most professional opportunities while affording you a lifestyle you can enjoy.” 

Michael Erwin, director of corporate communications for CareerBuilder, noted that job prospects for recent grads have improved this year. “Job listings on CareerBuilder are up across industries and company sizes,” he said in a press release. “The key is pinpointing those markets that not only have the greatest demand for your skill sets, but match areas of interest.”

Following is CareerBuilder’s and Apartments.com’s list of the 15 Best Cities for college graduates looking for a place to live and work, including the unemployment rate for the metropolitan statistical area, the average rent and salary, and the top industries in the area based on data from the Census Bureau’s Economic Census.

(Check out AdvisorOne's College Special Report 2012 to find more helpful information.)

Capitol in dusk Oklahoma City (AP Photo)

(Capitol at dusk in Oklahoma City. AP Photo)

15. Oklahoma City, Okla.

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 4.4%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $676
  • Average Salary $35,000
  • Top Industries: Retail trade; professional/technical services; health care

Site of original Starbucks in Seattle (Photo AP)

(Site of original Starbucks in Seattle. AP Photo)

14. Seattle

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 7.9%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,199
  • Average Salary: $37,700
  • Top Industries: Health care; retail trade; manufacturing

Alamo Square in San Francisco

(Alamo Square in San Francisco.)

13. San Francisco

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.9%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,653
  • Average Salary: $41,750
  • Top Industries: Professional/technical services; health care; retail trade

Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City (AP Photo)

(Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. AP Photo)

12. Salt Lake City

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 5.9%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $772
  • Average Salary: $39,000
  • Top Industries: Professional/technical services; retail trade; health care

Capitol in Denver decorated for Christmas. (AP Photo)

(Capitol in Denver decorated for Christmas. AP Photo)

11. Denver

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.2%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,089
  • Average Salary: $36,250
  • Top Industries: Administrative, support and waste management; retail trade; health care

 Baltimore's port, with inner harbor in background. (AP Photo)

(Baltimore's port, with inner harbor in background. AP Photo)

10. Baltimore

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 7.1%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,235
  • Average Salary: $35,500
  • Top Industries: Retail trade; professional/technical services; health care

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

(Independence Hall in Philadelphia.)

9. Philadelphia

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.4%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,070
  • Average Salary: $35,500
  • Top Industries: Health care; retail trade; manufacturing

Fireworks light up the Houston skyline (AP Photo)

(Fireworks light up the Houston skyline. AP Photo)

8. Houston

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.1%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $910
  • Average Salary: $35,500
  • Top Industries: Administrative, support and waste management; health care; retail trade

Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan. (AP Photo)

(Woman pushing stroller near Lake Michigan in Chicago. AP Photo)

7. Chicago

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 9%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,224
  • Average Salary: $36,000
  • Top Industries: Health care; manufacturing; retail trade

World of Coke in Atlanta

(World of Coke in Atlanta.)

6. Atlanta

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.7%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $855
  • Average Salary: $36,250
  • Top Industries: Administrative, support and waste management; retail trade; health care

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, west of Dallas. (Photo: AP)

(Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, west of Dallas. AP Photo)

5. Dallas

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 7%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $912
  • Average Salary: $36,000
  • Top Industries: Administrative, support and waste management; manufacturing; retail trade

Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden's Cherry Spoon in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)

(Cherry Spoon in Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. AP Photo)

4. Minneapolis

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 6.1%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $974
  • Average Salary: $38,500
  • Top Industries: Health care; manufacturing; retail trade

A British soldier reenactor in Boston tasting chowder. (AP Photo)

(A British soldier reenactor in Boston tasting chowder. AP Photo)

3. Boston

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 5.7%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,814
  • Average Salary: $37,500
  • Top Industries: Health care; retail trade; professional/technical services

Jets flying in formation past downtown Manhattan. (AP Photo)

(Jets flying in formation past downtown Manhattan. AP Photo)

2. New York

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 8.9%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,789
  • Average salary: $40,000
  • Top Industries: Health care; retail trade; professional/technical services

Washington skyline

(Washington skyline)

1. Washington

  • Unemployment rate as of March 2012: 5.5%
  • Average rent for one-bedroom apartment: $1,696
  • Average Salary: $39,000
  • Top Industries: Professional/technical services; retail trade; health care

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Check out AdvisorOne's College Special Report 2012 to find more helpful information.

Other Top 10 Lists from AdvisorOne:

Top 15 Best Paying College Degrees

Top 20 Colleges in Fundraising: Who’s Best at Tapping Alumni?

Top 10 Biggest College Savings Plans

Top 10 Universities & Liberal Arts Colleges

10 Most Expensive Colleges in U.S.

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