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
Quality of Life rank: 30
Professional Opportunities rank: 23
9. Charlotte, N.C.
Quality of Life rank: 7
Professional Opportunities rank: 63
Quality of Life rank: 27
Professional Opportunities rank: 27
7. Austin, Texas
Quality of Life rank: 8
Professional Opportunities rank: 30
6. San Francisco
Quality of Life rank: 18
Professional Opportunities rank: 11
Quality of Life rank: 11
Professional Opportunities rank: 24
Quality of Life rank: 4
Professional Opportunities rank: 20
3. Irving, Texas
Quality of Life rank: 32
Professional Opportunities rank: 2
Quality of Life rank: 9
Professional Opportunities rank: 5
1. Washington, D.C.