The 10 Worst Cities to Start Your Career

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By Rachel Gillett

Job prospects are looking better this year for recent college grads, but that doesn't mean all US cities are experiencing the same hiring boom.

Employment opportunities vary significantly based on geography, and some cities still lag behind when it comes to things like job growth and unemployment rates.To determine the worst places for recent college graduates to launch their burgeoning careers, personal finance site WalletHub analyzed and ranked the 150-most-populous US cities based on 19 metrics pertaining to professional opportunities and quality of life.

Metrics included the number of entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents, housing affordability, annual job growth rate, recreation ranking, unemployment rate, and number of leisure establishments in the area. (Read the full report and methodology here.)

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The 10 Worst Cities to Start Your Career

Monthly median starting salary: $2,186

Number of entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 26

With stalling population growth and poor economic mobility, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, landed the No. 147 spot for overall professional opportunities and No. 122 for quality of life.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,388

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 12

Mobile, Alabama, has few single people to hang out with and even fewer entry-level jobs, earning the city an overall professional-opportunities rank of No. 133 and overall quality-of-life score of 149 out of 150.

Monthly median starting salary: $1,908

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 13

With a high unemployment rate and very few things to do in your downtime, Modesto, California, might not be the best place to start out. The city comes in at No. 138 for overall professional opportunities and No. 141 for overall quality of life. Modesto does rank seventh for its great weather, though.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,297

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 15

Augusta, Georgia, has a low annual job-growth rate and an even lower economic-mobility rate, which is why it ranks as the second-worst city in terms of overall professional opportunities. Its quality of life rank isn't much better at No. 123, but one redeeming quality is the No. 8 rank WalletHub awarded the city for its entrepreneurial activity.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,481

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 40

As the second-worst city in terms of median annual income and third worst for population growth, Cleveland, Ohio, has an overall professional-opportunities score of 139th and overall quality-of-life rank of No. 137.

Monthly median starting salary: $1,982

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 9

With the third-highest unemployment rate of the 150 cities analyzed and few leisure and recreation establishments per 100,000 inhabitants, Stockton, California, ranks No. 140 for overall professional opportunities and 136th for overall quality of life.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,138

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 7

With one of the lowest ratios of entry-level jobs available and its low level of economic mobility, Columbus, Georgia, comes in as the ninth-worst city for overall professional opportunities and earns an overall quality-of-life score of 138th.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,407

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 18

Toledo, Ohio, ranks as the worst city in terms of population growth, and the percentage of its population with a bachelor's degree and its median-income growth rate aren't much better. The city ranks No. 144 for overall professional opportunities and No. 142 for overall quality of life.

Monthly median starting salary: $1,861

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 7

With the second-highest unemployment rate of the 150 cities analyzed and sixth-worst monthly median starting salary, Fresno, California, ranks as the worst city for overall professional opportunities and lands 134th spot for overall quality of life rank.

Monthly median starting salary: $2,622

Entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents: 33

Detroit, Michigan, comes in as the worst city to launch a career thanks to having the highest unemployment rate, the second-worst median-income growth rate, and a median annual income of $26,119. The city ranks low across the board, earning it the No. 145 spot for overall professional opportunities and No. 144 spot for overall quality of life.

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