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The Best Places to Launch a Career
Every year, newly minted graduates enter the job market, hoping to find not just a job, but a career. In some economic times, there are lots of opportunities, but in other times – like now – they are few and far between. Still, starting a career is easier in some cities than in others.
Forbes.com has published a ranking of the best U.S. metropolitan areas for starting a career. In compiling the ranking, Forbes looked primarily at three things:
An analysis of alumni information from six premier universities – Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, Duke and Rice – to determine where its 1999 graduates live. This suggests communities where the nation’s top young professionals have been able to settle into careers. (The study did not count Harvard grads living in Boston or Cambridge, or Rice grads living in Houston.)
How many healthy and growing companies are located in each city, based on Forbes’ lists of America’s 400 Best Big Companies, and America’s 200 Best Small Companies.
The cost of living in each city.
The winner? San Jose, Calif. The home of eBay as well as other major companies, San Jose ranked first for its collection of large companies, and 13th for smaller companies. It also ranked fifth in attracting young professionals. Unfortunately, this city of 1.8 million people has a high cost of living. But hey, you can’t have everything.
Number 2 is Cambridge, Mass. Excluding the Harvard grads who decided to settle in the shadow of their alma mater, Cambridge ranks 22nd with young professionals. But in reality, of course, there are lots of Harvard grads in Cambridge, and they contribute to an excellent potential work force for companies. In fact, Cambridge, with only 1.4 million people, ranked second for its concentration of large companies and sixth for small companies.
Houston boasts a robust economy and a very low cost of living, especially for a major metropolitan area with 5.5 million people. The combination of strong companies and inexpensive living makes Houston third on the Forbes list.
The most popular city for young professionals is San Francisco. And the City by the Bay also has a strong mix of small and large companies. However, its extremely high cost of living keeps it in fourth place.
Politics is the main business – but not the only one – in Washington, D.C. This robust mix of private- and public-sector jobs draws young professionals to the nation’s capital.
Boston has a high concentration of top small companies, as well as plenty of large ones. And even excluding alums from nearby Harvard, Boston ranks fourth for attracting young professionals. That’s enough to give it the Number 6 spot on the Forbes list.
The financial crisis has cut somewhat into the quantity and the quality of jobs available in New York, which comes in at Number 7. In addition, the cost of living is very high. But that does not stop many young professionals from hoping to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Philadelphia ranks higher than New York in terms of both large and small companies, and it has a lower cost of living. However, the City of Brotherly love is not nearly as popular with young professionals, so it ended up below New York in the Forbes ranking.
Minneapolis has trouble attracting young professionals to its cold and snowy winters. But the strong concentration of large and small companies, as well as a relatively low cost of living, still earn it the Number 9 spot on the list.
Rounding out the top 10 is Dallas, which benefits from its low cost of living and its collection of strong companies, especially in the energy and technology fields.
The next 10 metropolitan areas on the Forbes list are:
13. Nashville, Tenn.
14. Orange County, Calif.
15. St. Louis, Mo.
16. Charlotte, N.C.
19. San Diego.
20. Milwaukee, Wisc.