Entering the job market after finishing school has never been harder than it is now: graduates are laden with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, face bleak job prospects, and have to trudge through unpaid internships with no guarantee of a career waiting for them after. But instead of trying to change the system, why not just look for cities where there are plentiful opportunities? We’ve uncovered some of the most fruitful, fastest-growing cities in this country where your chances of getting a job is much higher.
To write this article, we focused mainly on metropolitan cities. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with small, rural towns, but they’re not hotbeds of opportunity the way big cities are. For one, their populations tend not to grow at a very fast rate unless a major event occurs (i.e. the Klondike gold rush of 1896-99). But those events are few and far between — especially in comparison to large cities — so that’s why we’re leaving them out.
The biggest music city in the south is also fantastic for new grads, offering an irresistible combination of great average pay, promising job growth in the future, and present low unemployment rate.
Median pay: $64,000 a year
Job growth rate last year: 2.5% of the population
Unemployment rate: 4.89% (compared with 6+% nationwide)
Salt Lake City, Utah
If you can brave a bit of snow and cold weather, then set up shop in the mountains to give yourself a career edge. Not only do you get one of the premier movie festivals in the world, but you also get an incredibly laidback vibe in Salt Lake City.
Median pay: $62,200 a year
Job growth rate last year: 1.33% of the population
Unemployment rate: 4%
This heavily Mormon-based city (83.3% of citizens are LDS) has seen growth every decade for the last century and a half, with the exception of 1970-1990. The IRS is the city’s largest employer, but not the only one by far in this city of about 85,000 people. And just try to resist the charm of Ogden’s main street in the wintertime.
Median pay: $56,000 a year
Job growth last year: 2.05% of the population
Unemployment rate: 4.03%
One half of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis has a thriving economy, second in size in the Midwest only to Chicago. And while the winters may be chillier than you’re used to, people there wear the weather as a badge of honor. Not just anyone can hack living in Minnesota, and those who can are discernibly tougher than the rest.
Median pay: $63,400
Job growth last year: 1.01% of the population
Unemployment rate: 4.37%
This mid-sized city of 212,000 has retained a small town feel by avoiding a ton of big-box stores downtown, electing to instead go with small business and independent shops.
Median pay: $55,300
Job growth last year: 1.66% of the population
Unemployment rate: 5.39%
Although these five cities may not seem like employment hotspots at first glance, they’re some of the fastest-growing cities in America. And in an economic climate that’s unsteady at the best of times, college graduates should take a closer look at this list.