For people in their mid-20s to early 30s who have finished their education and are starting their careers, figuring out where to live can be difficult.
With local economies varying from place to place and recent grads potentially looking for a partner to start a family, it’s good to be around other people in your age range.
To try to figure out where newly minted young professionals should live, we evaluated the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. on a variety of measures that might be important to recent grads.
We used six measures to evaluate the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. From the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, we took the share of the population of each city who were young adults between the ages of 20 and 34, the per cent of people who had never been married as a proxy for single people, the share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the median earnings for a worker in the city, and the percentage of rental households that paid less than 35% of monthly income on housing expenses as a measure of apartment affordability.
We also took the March 2014 unemployment figures for each from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics.
Each city was given a ranking score from 0 to 100 for each of these measures, and then those rankings were averaged together to find the final ranking.
Sioux Falls had an extremely low unemployment rate at 3.9% in March. Sioux Falls also, by one measure, has the most affordable apartment rent in the country: 71.1% of apartment households spent less than 35% of their monthly incomes on housing costs, a much higher proportion than in any of the other cities.
Something that might give a 20- or 30-something college graduate pause is that Sioux Falls has somewhat fewer highly educated people than the other cities on this list, with just 29.2% of its residents holding a bachelor's degree or higher.
Similar to Sioux Falls, Omaha has very low unemployment, at 4.5%, and very affordable apartments, with 63.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of monthly income on gross rent.
Unfortunately, for single college grads trying to decide where to settle down, Omaha has fewer singles than the other cities on this list, with just 32% of its population having never been married.
The Twin Cities are economically dynamic, home to Target and many other large employers. It's not that surprising that Minneapolis and St. Paul are very well educated with 39.5% of residents having a bachelor's or higher. Median worker earnings are solid at $US36,358 a year, and unemployment is relatively low at 4.9%.
On the downside, there are fewer people in the earlier stages of their careers in Minneapolis, with just 21.1% of the population falling between 20 and 34.
Over the last decade, the Bay Area has become a natural destination for ambitious and highly educated people, being the heart of the tech industry. A full 45% of San Franciscans have at least a bachelor's degree, and median earnings for workers are a very impressive $US41,265.
Columbus scored reasonably well on each of our measures. Unemployment was at 5.0%, the median worker earned $US31,589, and 34.1% of residents had a bachelor's degree or higher.
Seattle has solid median worker earnings, at $US36,864, and 37.7% of Seattleites hold bachelor's degrees or advanced degrees. However, there are fewer singles than most of the other top-ranked cities, with just 32.8% of Seattleites having never been married.
Over a quarter of the population of Lincoln falls in our young-adult age range: 25.2% are between the ages of 20 and 34. Unemployment is very low at 3.5%, but having a job is not as lucrative as in many of our other cities. Median worker earnings were just $US27,100.
Boston is home to a ridiculous number of colleges, and this is reflected by the 42.9% of Bostonians with bachelor's or advanced degrees. Jobs in Boston also pay well, with median worker earnings at $US37,954.
Like the other college-centered cities on this list, Madison is young and well educated. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 make up 24.7% of Madison's population, and 42.6% of the adult population holds at least a bachelor's. Madison has a fairly low unemployment rate of 4.7%.
The capital had the highest median worker earnings of any of the 200 cities we looked at, with the median worker making $US44,452, much higher than the national median of $US30,155. Washington attracts the educated, with 48.2% of the adult population holding at least a bachelor's degree.
Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor's degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.
North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the last couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota's largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo's economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.
The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $US30,104, slightly below the national median of $US30,155.
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