The 5 worst cities to start a career

After years of education, training, and soul-searching, when the time finally comes to really launch your career in earnest, it can feel pretty exciting, but maybe a little scary and overwhelming, too. You know that the decisions you make now will impact your professional journey for years to come. It's important that you have as much information as possible, so that you can head in the right direction.


(Photo Credit: jimcchou/Flickr)

One decision that could have a major impact on your career is where exactly you're going to live and work during this stage of your professional life. Some cities are better than others for folks working to get a career off the ground. For this reason, the folks at WalletHub recently released a new report that analyzes, across 17 metrics, the best and worst cities to start a career among the 150 most populated cities in the United States. Let's take a look at the cities that came in last – the ones that are the worst places to begin your professional journey.

1. Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit has topped other lists like this from WalletHub in the past. Perhaps most notably, in 2015, it came in last on the best and worst cities to live in report. And, just a few weeks ago, the city got national coverage when its teachers participated in a sickout because they'd been given reason to believe they might not be paid for some of the work they'd already completed. Detroit is pushing toward recovery, but for now it's not a great city to live if you're trying to start your career.

2. Fresno, California.

Fresno, California scored low in both its "professional opportunities rank" (148 out of 150) and in "quality of life rank" (132 out of 150). The unemployment rate in Fresno is over 10 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than twice the national rate. It's hard enough to get a career off the ground – living in Fresno, California will likely only add to the difficulty.

3. Moreno Valley, California.

Moreno Valley came in third on the list of worst cities to begin a career for several economic reasons. For example, it ranked fifth from the bottom when it came to number of entry level jobs per 100,000 working-age residents. Interestingly, three other California cities actually ranked below Moreno Valley in this category: Santa Clarita, Chula Vista, and Garden Grove.

4. Akron, Ohio.

Akron, Ohio might not be the best city to start a career, but there are indications that the economy could be improving. Manufacturing goals and products are shifting, and the unemployment rate in Akron seems to be moving in the right direction, and has been for some time. Hopefully, things will continue to improve for this city's residents. But, for now, there might be a better place to put down roots.

5. Hialeah, Florida.

This Florida city was ranked as the third worst city when it came to "percentage of the population aged 25 to 34." Two other cities from the state ranked below it in this category – Port St Lucie, and Cape Coral. The median household income of Hialeah is around $27,000 and the median per capita income is about half that. This is a difficult place to get started.

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The 5 worst cities to start a career

Cincinnati, Ohio 
Average Starting Annual Salary: $48,348
Unemployment Rate: 4.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Raleigh, North Carolina
Average Starting Annual Salary: $48,609
Unemployment Rate: 4.8 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Austin, Texas
Average Starting Annual Salary: $50,035
Unemployment Rate: 3.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Washington, DC
Average Starting Annual Salary: $51,310
Unemployment Rate: 4.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota
Average Starting Annual Salary: $49,950
Unemployment Rate: 4.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Sioux Falls, South Dakota 
Average Starting Annual Salary: $43,849
Unemployment Rate: 3.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Fargo, North Dakota
Average Starting Annual Salary: $44,163
Unemployment Rate: 3.0 percent

Photo credit: Getty

Madison, Wisconsin
Average Starting Annual Salary: $51,163
Unemployment Rate: 3.9 percent 

Photo credit: Getty

Atlanta, Georgia
Average Starting Annual Salary: $48,991
Unemployment Rate: 5.3 percent 

Photo credit: Getty

Seattle, Washington 
Average Starting Annual Salary: $54,024
Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty


For more information, be sure to check out WalletHub's complete list of 2016's Best & Worst Cities to Start a Career. Additionally, once you've landed that new job, be sure to take a few minutes with PayScale's Salary Survey to help you find out what folks like you are paid, which could help you during negotiations. (See PayScale's Salary Negotiation Guide to help get ready for that.)

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