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The 5 Worst Cities to Start a Career

Topics: Data & Research

After years of education, training, and soul-searching, when the time finally comes to really launch your career in earnest, it can feel pretty exciting, but maybe a little scary and overwhelming, too. You know that the decisions you make now will impact your professional journey for years to come. It’s important that you have as much information as possible, so that you can head in the right direction.


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One decision that could have a major impact on your career is where exactly you’re going to live and work during this stage of your professional life. Some cities are better than others for folks working to get a career off the ground. For this reason, the folks at WalletHub recently released a new report that analyzes, across 17 metrics, the best and worst cities to start a career among the 150 most populated cities in the United States. Let’s take a look at the cities that came in last – the ones that are the worst places to begin your professional journey.

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1. Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit has topped other lists like this from WalletHub in the past. Perhaps most notably, in 2015, it came in last on the best and worst cities to live in report. And, just a few weeks ago, the city got national coverage when its teachers participated in a sickout because they’d been given reason to believe they might not be paid for some of the work they’d already completed. Detroit is pushing toward recovery, but for now it’s not a great city to live if you’re trying to start your career.

2. Fresno, California.

Fresno, California scored low in both its “professional opportunities rank” (148 out of 150) and in “quality of life rank” (132 out of 150). The unemployment rate in Fresno is over 10 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than twice the national rate. It’s hard enough to get a career off the ground – living in Fresno, California will likely only add to the difficulty.

3. Moreno Valley, California.

Moreno Valley came in third on the list of worst cities to begin a career for several economic reasons. For example, it ranked fifth from the bottom when it came to number of entry level jobs per 100,000 working-age residents. Interestingly, three other California cities actually ranked below Moreno Valley in this category: Santa Clarita, Chula Vista, and Garden Grove.

4. Akron, Ohio.

Akron, Ohio might not be the best city to start a career, but there are indications that the economy could be improving. Manufacturing goals and products are shifting, and the unemployment rate in Akron seems to be moving in the right direction, and has been for some time. Hopefully, things will continue to improve for this city’s residents. But, for now, there might be a better place to put down roots.

5. Hialeah, Florida.

This Florida city was ranked as the third worst city when it came to “percentage of the population aged 25 to 34.” Two other cities from the state ranked below it in this category – Port St Lucie, and Cape Coral. The median household income of Hialeah is around $27,000 and the median per capita income is about half that. This is a difficult place to get started.

For more information, be sure to check out WalletHub’s complete list of 2016’s Best & Worst Cities to Start a Career. Additionally, once you’ve landed that new job, be sure to take a few minutes with PayScale’s Salary Survey to help you find out what folks like you are paid, which could help you during negotiations. (See PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to help get ready for that.)

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JVAlysha OlsenMary WillisVoice of ReasonAndria Ventura Recent comment authors
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Please change the title to:
“the 5 worst cities in US


True that re Vancouver. I’m from the Pacific Northwest and know several folks who live there. One recently posted a realtor’s ad for what was basically a shack for sale, complete with old-tire-strewn, postage stamp sized yard. Asking price was $1 million.

Andria Ventura
Andria Ventura

I would add the ciites of California’s Bay Area. It is great for folks in high-tech but really hard for people in other fields.. Between the over-emphasis on this one industry and the stratospheric cost of living, I know that I can’t stay here.

Alysha Olsen
Alysha Olsen

I also live and work in Fresno and frankly, the statistics are always skewed because of the agriculture industry which has high seasonal unemployment and traditionally low wages. For college graduates, you can live very well and there are plenty of opportunities. You have to deal with heat from July to September, but as I can be on any number of lakes in the high Sierra’s within an hour, I deal with it happily since my mortgage is so low… Read more »

Mary Willis
Mary Willis

I work in higher education in Fresno. While our unemployment rate is higher than the national average, I would argue that’s not the case for college graduates. Our students consistently receive good job offers prior to graduation. Also, our cost of living is much more reasonable that in Southern California or the Bay Area, making owning a home a very attainable goal for new graduates. Yes, it’s hot here, but my back yard is Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National… Read more »

Voice of Reason
Voice of Reason

My vote would be Vancouver Canada…lived here all my life, can barely afford to anymore
Wages are low, taxes are high as are groceries, gas and about every other friggin thing here…

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