America's Job Meccas: Surprising Places to Pursue Careers

By Sophie Schechter, Minyanville Media

Popular TV shows such as "How I Met Your Mother" and "Friends" revere urban areas (in these cases, Manhattan) that are already popular, especially with recent college graduates. These shows capitalize on the cities that college students, on the threshold of graduation, traditionally long to flock to. However, in this economy, with unemployment rates at a consistent low, the lifestyles idealized in these shows are becoming increasingly unrealistic, bordering on preposterous. But not every city mirrors the same discouraging unemployment statistics.If you're looking to enter health care:
Atlanta, Ga., is one of the best cities for someone looking for work, especially in the area of health care. The greater metro area is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several biotech companies. Within the last couple of years, Atlanta has seen a consistent 3 percent increase in jobs yearly, and it's predicted that there will be an estimated 2.5 million new jobs there between now and 2030, solely within the city of Atlanta. With this predicted job increase, as well as the city's monthly rent average of $890 for a single-bedroom apartment as of March 2012 (according to, Atlanta is looking like a pretty sweet deal. The city is also home to a number of international and national headquarters, including The Coca-Cola Company, UPS, AT&T, Delta, and Home Depot.

Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are great cities for those seeking jobs in health care since each city has a nationally ranked hospital according to U.S. News. In addition, CNN named Philadelphia one of the Top 10 cities for health care-related jobs in 2010; in 2011, The Huffington Postnamed Pittsburgh one of the best places to go for someone seeking a job in health care.

Although it's easier to find jobs in Pittsburgh, the rent is approximately $1,060 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, a city that's a bigger draw for college grads; it may not be a steal, but neither is it overpriced for a famous city with a great culture for young adults. However, all things considered, you would be better off in Pittsburgh, a city that seems to have miraculously escaped the clutches of the recession. It has not yet had a notable drop in its employment rate, and an average rent is approximately $700 per month.

If you love the arts:
Those who think that high-profile jobs in the performing arts are limited to Broadway and Hollywood are missing out. Surprisingly, Minneapolis, Minn., is home to the third-largest theater market in the U.S., following New York and Chicago. It is also the capital of small business growth. For those who wish to work with the arts on a smaller scale (such as in art galleries or small-scale playhouses), Minneapolis is the place to go.

For those more inclined toward music, you are better off in Austin, Texas. Not only is Austin a beautiful city with a thriving arts and culture scene -- and warm weather -- it's one of the live-music meccas in the United States. More impressively, it's estimated to have a 47.8 percent employment increase by 2030 according to The Huffington Post.

If you want to make the world eco-friendly:
The hottest jobs on the market seem to be on the new frontier of green living. Not surprisingly, it's big cities that have attracted the majority of these suddenly chic jobs.

Rent is high (well over $2,000, on average, for a studio apartment), and jobs are scarce, but if there's a place to be green, it's New York, N.Y. Although there are few job opportunities that would afford a recent college grad the ability to pay rent and eat simultaneously, New York is, according to The Daily Green, third out of 15 cities for job creation in this area of expertise. Additionally, New York is the sixth leading state in the U.S. for "clean energy job creation in 2007."

But New York is not the greenest city. That honor is left to trailblazing Portland, Ore., where over 1 percent (more than any other city) of all jobs are eco-related. According to The Daily Green, "Many rate Portland number one in sustainability." More impressive still: In 2007, Oregon added an estimated 1,613 eco-friendly businesses, giving the city an additional 19,340 green jobs.

If you're still clueless:
If your priorities are a fat check and a pleasant environment rather than a specific career path, look no further than Denver, Colo. Amid the turbulent waters of a slipping economy, Denver is expected to experience long-term financial and population growth, according to The Huffington Post. In addition, its job market is growing at a shocking rate of 2.54 percent per year. What more could a footloose, aimless, post-grad ask for?

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