Cities Journal
City Life

These Are The Best And Worst U.S. Cities For Starting A Career


Since 2008, the US job market has been doing its best to recover, but it is safe to say that it is still not what it used to be. While things are looking up, the financial crisis did take its toll on the market. There are cities around the country where young people can find it extremely difficult to get their first job, especially in certain industries.

WalletHub has identified those cities, as well as those where starting a career is much easier. In short, they compared 150 cities around the United States and collated a list of the best and worst U.S. cities for people who are starting their careers.

Like always, they used a plethora of factors that gave them the most precise results they could get. They used data from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as, Sharecare, and a number of other organizations.

First, they looked at the so-called Professional Opportunities ranking that included factors such as the Availability of Entry-Level Jobs, the Median Starting Salary, the Median Income Growth Rate, the Annual Job Growth Rate, the Workforce Diversity, the Economic Mobility, the Unemployment Rate and their own proprietary WalletHub Entrepreneurial Activity Ranking.

Next, they looked at the Quality of Life ranking, which consisted of the following factors: the Median Annual Income, the Percentage of the Population Aged 25-34, the Percentage of the Population with a Bachelor’s Degree Minimum, the Projected Population Growth, the Housing Affordability and the three WalletHub rankings – Recreation, Families and Singles.

Their researchers then used both these major rankings to find out which American cities (cities proper, not metro areas) ranked the highest and the lowest.


According to their results, the best city to start a career in the United States is Salt Lake City, Utah. The capital of Utah ranked 1st in the Professional Opportunities ranking and 10th in the Quality of Life ranking. Salt Lake City was tied with three more cities in the number of Entry Level jobs and ranked quite high in other categories that determined the Professional Opportunities ranking.

Another Rocky Mountains city made it to the very top of the list – Denver, Colorado, which came out second. It came in third in the Professional Opportunities ranking and 14th in the Quality of Life ranking. In third place, we find Austin, Texas, which ranked 9th in Professional Opportunities and 7th in Quality of Life. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made it to fourth place and Minneapolis, Minnesota, to fifth.

Raleigh, North Carolina; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and three Texas cities – Amarillo, Houston, and Corpus Christi also made it to the Top 10. The only city among these that wasn’t in the top 10 in the Professional Opportunities ranking is Raleigh, which made it thanks to its high Quality of Life rank.

At the very bottom of the list, we find Detroit, Michigan; Fresno, California; Moreno Valley, California; Akron, Ohio, and Hialeah, Florida.

New York City, which is usually considered the place where people go to make their careers, ranked 127th, below places like Port St. Lucie and Chula Vista, just to name a few. Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Memphis, Chicago and Los Angeles are just some of the major cities that didn’t even break the Top 100.

According to WalletHub, these cities are where you go once you have already made it, not when you are starting your career.

The research unearthed some additional insights, such as the fact that the best cities have 39 times more entry-jobs than the worst ones in this category. There is also a huge difference between the Highest and the Lowest Starting Salaries (adjusted for cost of living) with Houston, Durham, and San Jose paying three times more than Honolulu, New York or Santa Rosa.

You can find more details here. Make sure to check out this list.

Prev1 of 2Next

Stay In Touch

Recommended For You

The Latest