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20 Best & Worst Cities to Start a Career

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WalletHub has analyzed the 150 largest American cities to determine which areas provided the most opportunity for career starters.

The site rated each city based on a total of 18 metrics in two categories: quality of life and professional opportunities.

To determine a city’s quality of life, WalletHub rated its average annual income, the percentage of the population between 25 and 34 and the share of residents 15 and older that have never been married, strength of social ties, percentage of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree and entertainment opportunities. Also included but at a lower weighting were the population growth, average rent for a two-bedroom house or apartment and housing costs.

WalletHub determined professional opportunities based on the number of entry-level jobs available and the number of technology jobs as a percentage of total city employment, monthly median starting salary, annual job growth, median income growth rate, economic mobility and work force diversity. Current unemployment and entrepreneurial activity were given a lower weight.

WalletHub spoke to several financial experts to get their thoughts on the challenges new grads face as they begin careers and take on new financial responsibilities. Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, urged recent college graduates not to be short-sighted when it comes to their financial futures.

“Americans are optimistic. When we’re young, add invincible to that optimism,” she said. “Although they seem like wonderful traits, and are in many ways, this attitude lends itself to causing young people to postpone boring stuff like savings. We think, ‘When I get that job, promotion, bonus, or get that degree, then I’ll be making enough money to save.’ Year after year we tell ourselves this, but life gets more complicated — houses, children, etc. — and our resources are even more stretched. Time is your biggest ally. Use it, don’t lose it.”

Andrew pointed out that the student loan debt burden is considerable, and encouraged grads to think carefully about their options.

“Two out of three young adults graduate with student loan debt. The average debt load per borrower rolls in slightly above $30,000 for a 2014 graduate, he said. “Student loan debt often paralyzes and forces young adults to make life decisions they don’t necessarily want.”

Here are WalletHub’s 10 best and 10 worst cities to start a career:

Best Cities to Start a Career

Houston, Texas Skyline.

10. Houston

Quality of Life rank: 30

Professional Opportunities rank: 23

9. Charlotte, N.C.

Quality of Life rank: 7

Professional Opportunities rank: 63

Dallas, Texas Skyline.

8. Dallas

Quality of Life rank: 27

Professional Opportunities rank: 27

7. Austin, Texas

Quality of Life rank: 8

Professional Opportunities rank: 30

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. (Photo: AP)

6. San Francisco

Quality of Life rank: 18

Professional Opportunities rank: 11

5. Minneapolis

Quality of Life rank: 11

Professional Opportunities rank: 24

A view of Seattle's Space Needle and skyline. (Photo: AP)

4. Seattle

Quality of Life rank: 4

Professional Opportunities rank: 20

3. Irving, Texas

Quality of Life rank: 32

Professional Opportunities rank: 2

Denver Capitol

2. Denver

Quality of Life rank: 9

Professional Opportunities rank: 5

1. Washington, D.C.

Quality of Life rank: 3

Professional Opportunities rank: 3

Worst Cities to Start a Career

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: AP)

141. Riverside, Calif.

Quality of Life rank: 128

Professional Opportunities rank: 128

142. Cleveland

Quality of Life rank: 97

Professional Opportunities rank: 149

Fayetteville State University campus in Fayetteville, N.C. (Photo: AP)

143. Fayetteville, N.C.

Quality of Life rank: 101

Professional Opportunities rank: 147

144. Columbus, Ga.

Quality of Life rank: 89

Professional Opportunities rank: 150

Detroit (Photo: AP)

145. Detroit

Quality of Life rank: 126

Professional Opportunities rank: 143

146. Akron, Ohio

Quality of Life rank: 125

Professional Opportunities rank: 144

Downtown San Bernardino, Calif. (Photo: AP)

147. San Bernardino, Calif.

Quality of Life rank: 148

Professional Opportunities rank: 126

148. Stockton, Calif.

Quality of Life rank: 141

Professional Opportunities rank: 138

California Welcome Sign

149. Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Quality of Life rank: 146

Professional Opportunities rank: 139

150. Modesto, Calif.

Quality of Life rank: 147

Professional Opportunities rank: 146

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