Best Cities for a Job after College

Hi lovelies,

Good news for 2018-2019 college graduates. According to a survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, almost 17 percent rated the job market for 2019 as excellent. Another 45 percent identified it as very good. With their college degree hot in hand, recent graduates may take aim on making it big in the big city.

Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio

What might surprise people is that huge cities on the East and West Coasts are not necessarily the best land of opportunity for newly minted graduates. In fact, several cities that made the top ten of a recent SmartAsset list are right squarely in the heart of the Midwest, with Columbus, Ohio at the top of the heap and Cincinnati right behind.

It is worth noting that Cincinnati—number two on SmartAsset’s list—made the number ten spot with ZipRecruiter. Part of that is due to the presence of several powerhouse employers like Kroger, General Electric, and Procter and Gamble.

Factors that grads need to take into account include the unemployment rate for college graduates, median rent or home price, and the percentage of adults in that 20-29 age range. Those Midwest cities in SmartAsset’s top ten all had rent factors ranging from $550 to just under $850.

Omaha, Nebraska

Another index that uses ZipRecruiter’s “Opportunity Score” – the number of jobs versus job seekers—also puts a spotlight on the Midwest, although on this list Omaha, Nebraska gets top billing. What both indexes do agree on is the affordability of life in America’s heartland combined with opportunities for recent college grads to snag well-paying jobs. In addition to opportunities and affordability, this particular study took into account a city's "walkability."  When this is factored in, smaller cities that might offer excellent opportunities for recent grads may not fare as well because of being more spread out with less population density.

Scottsdale, Arizona

The most exhaustive ranking for job opportunities comes courtesy of WalletHub, which ranked more than 180 cities across the United States using a myriad of factors split into two principal categories: Job Market and Socio-Economics. Topping WalletHub's rankings are Scottsdale, Arizona. Just to give you an idea of how measuring the “best” cities can vary, Omaha ranked 50th in this index with Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio at 69th and 73rd, respectively.

How do they determine these cities?

The WalletHub rankings measured favorite American cities along with the two most densely populated cities in each state. Their methodology skews heavily toward the job market, looking at such factors as an opportunity, employment growth, starting salaries, unemployment, and access to benefits. Socio-economic factors taken into account include dating and family friendliness, transit, safety, commuting time, and affordability.


The bottom line for any college graduate in the market for a job is to remember that bigger isn’t always better. Larger cities often have a higher rent factor that can have a tremendous impact on quality of life. So in addition to low unemployment and excellent opportunities for higher-paying jobs, graduates need to take into account those socio-economic factors. Work satisfaction is not enough to make up for a lifestyle that doesn’t suit you.

*Note: This is a guest post