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Diane Stafford: Best cities for job-seeking grads

This year has already been labeled the best year since 2007 for new college graduates looking to land a job.

Great! So what to do with that information?

Dig into a new Team ZipRecruiter report that indicates exactly which cities offer the best odds for new grads. These metro areas are most fertile grounds, according to the ranking:

Minneapolis-St. Paul; Kansas City; Portland, Ore.; Seattle-Tacoma; Indianapolis; Salt Lake City; Boston; San Francisco-Oakland; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; San Diego; Phoenix; Denver; Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City; Washington, D.C.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Orlando, Fla.; and San Jose, Calif.

You always can argue with methodologies and find exceptions, but this collected data provides a starting point for entry-level job hunters with fresh degrees. It looks at the ratio of openings appropriate for new college graduates compared to the number of applicants in each metro area.

Further slicing and dicing identifies technology as the most promising industry for new grads in a majority of the markets. Business, health care, and finance and insurance top a few metro lists.

Reports like these may be useless for graduates who pursued majors in fields that aren’t doing a lot of hiring. The comparative statistics also won’t help a graduate who has no intention of moving to another city.

Fortunately, a different part of the Team ZipRecuirter report, in which the jobs postings website surveyed 2,000 job seekers on their site, found that fewer than 1 in 10 would refuse to move for a job. And more than one-third said they were willing to move anywhere.

Assuming that most new graduates aren’t ready to buy a house, the report also looked at median rents. There was quite a range, and the differences might help influence job-hunting and job-acceptance choices. Median rents in the top 20 cities were said to range from $850 to well over $4,000 a month. Clearly, salary offers need to be commensurate with housing costs in order to fairly evaluate positions.

A separate report by CareerBuilder notes that 74 percent of surveyed employers plan to hire new college grads this year, up from 67 percent last year. Not only are there likely to be more entry-level openings, the pay offers also might ratchet higher as employers compete with each other for top talent.

Nearly three-fourths of the employers said they’re willing to negotiate salary offers, many of which are starting at a fairly hefty level already. The CareerBuilder report said expected starting offers break down this way: under $30,000, 23 percent; $30,000 to $40,000, 21 percent; $40,000 to $50,000, 18 percent, and $50,000 and up, 39 percent.

College degrees continue to be the best predictor of employability and decent lifetime pay.



To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to Follow her online at and


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