Special Report

The Worst Cities to Find a Job for Recent Graduates

College and university students in the class of 2020 faced the worst — and most uncertain — job market the U.S. had seen in generations. Economic fallout in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak pushed unemployment to 13.3% in May of 2020, down only slightly from the previous month’s jobless rate of 14.8% — the highest since the Great Depression. 

 With the average annual cost of a college education ranging from about $26,000 at a four-year public school to $54,000 at a private one, many students take on debt to afford college. Total student debt topped $1.7 trillion in 2020. Considering the financial challenges, it is as important as ever that college graduates secure jobs that require the skills they obtained as undergraduates, and that pay a salary that justifies the investment in their education.

Though the job market has improved significantly since the early months of the pandemic, in some major U.S. cities, recent college graduates still face considerable disadvantages.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of six key measures to identify the worst cities for recent college graduates to find a job. Index measures are related to job growth, financial security, earnings, and employment opportunities for the young and the college educated. 

The disadvantages that recent graduates at the beginning of their career face in many of the metro areas on this list vary. One of the most common disadvantages is a lack of employment opportunities in fields that typically require a college degree such as information, finance and insurance, professional, scientific, and technical services. With limited job opportunities in these fields, wages are often lower overall in these areas for workers with a college degree. Here is a look at the lowest paying jobs for college graduates

With such unfavorable conditions for those with a college degree, it is perhaps not surprising that the metro areas on this list have relatively low educational attainment rates. In the vast majority of these metro areas, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher is below the 32.1% share nationwide. Here is a look at the least educated city in every state. 

Click here to see the worst cities to find a job for recent graduates
Click here to read our detailed methodology