The U.S. economy has added over 1 million jobs already this year, and the unemployment rate has hovered around 4%, lower than it has been in over a decade. With the strongest job market in years, today’s college graduates should have a relatively easy time finding gainful employment compared to their peers in years past.
Of course, finding a job after college is still a challenging and stressful experience. For many young Americans, this will be their first full-time job, and they likely will have little relevant experience to put on their resume. Also, with college debt levels at record highs, there is tremendous pressure for students to begin paying off their massive loans. The average loan debt for students who graduated in 2017 is nearly $40,000.
With these factors in mind, graduates who have not yet lined up a job must often choose where to move to look for work, and our research suggests that while in many U.S. cities employers are certainly hiring skilled fresh graduates, other places appear to have little to offer these graduates. In these places, job growth has been and continues to be poor, and wages for young Americans tend to be low. These places also offer relatively few jobs in the kinds of industries four-year college educated workers tend to prefer.
24/7 Wall St. created an index of three components: job growth, wages for young workers, and the concentration of white-collar jobs in U.S. metropolitan areas. Nationwide, these industries include professional and business services, education and health services, information, and financial activities. The 40 U.S. metropolitan areas on our list compare the least favorably in these measures.
While in some U.S. metropolitan areas, 22-24-year olds are hired by the thousands and are paid an average monthly wage of $2,000 to $3,000, most of the metropolitan areas on our list hire just a few hundred young workers each month, and in many cases the young workers earn less than $1,500 a month on average. While the national concentration of white-collar jobs in many metropolitan areas is 43.0%, is it closer to 30% in many of these metro areas.
Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, told 24/7 Wall St. that these areas “are really, really very small. They’re not near any of the large areas, and that suggests that people in these job markets are not going to have a lot of employers bidding for their services.” Indeed, very few jobs are added across all age groups in many of the smaller cities. They also tend to have high unemployment and poverty rates, and low college attainment rates.