For recent college grads, the future may seem bleak. In 2010, employment among young adults was at the lowest rate since World War II. The average college graduate carries more than $25,000 in debt, and millions of them are trading sexy dreams of big city lofts and office happy hours for a not-so-sexy reality of cruising job sites on Mom and Dad’s couch.
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“Our generation is inheriting a world for the first time in America that will be worse off than our parents inherited,” says Jarrett Moreno, the 25-year-old cofounder of OURTIME, a Washington, D.C-based advocacy group for young Americans. “A ton of young people are out of work, people are graduating into an environment where there are no jobs for them. It’s an unpleasant situation.”
But while moribund news seems to dominate, there’s a bright spot on the horizon. Things are looking up for 2012 — especially for young people. In December, unemployment was at 9.4 percent for those aged 25-34, down from 10 percent in December 2010, and at 14.4 percent for those ages 20-24, down from 15.2 percent in 2010. “Things are getting better, but things are getting better very very slowly,” said Lindsey Pollak, a global spokesperson for LinkedIn and author of Getting from College to Career. “It’s not a sudden turnaround in the job market, but the numbers are better which is great news.”
The news was especially sunny in cities, with 351 out of 372 metropolitan areas showing a drop in unemployment in November 2011 from the previous year. So how important is geography in the job hunt? Some say very. “If you’re in a city where you know things are terribly depressed, it makes sense to move to a place with better opportunities,” Pollak says. If you are hunting outside of your area, be clear to potential employers that you’re willing to cover your own relocation costs, Pollak says. “You don’t want to seem like you’re more difficult to hire.” Many recruiters will also weed out resumes with out-of-town addresses, so Moreno suggests taking the plunge and making the move ahead of time. “If someone’s going to sit around at home waiting to find a job halfway across the country, at a certain point you have to take a risk. That risk-taking element will reward a number of people.”
So if you’re a young person looking for a job, which cities are best? Though it varies from industry to industry, certain cities have shown markedly low unemployment for young people in recent years and have the companies and culture that makes them a hotspot for college grads. We looked at unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2010 population survey, the latest data available, for 25-34-year-olds, as well as 20-24-year-olds, in 116 of the country’s largest metro areas, to find the 10 best cities for young people to find jobs — and some of them might just surprise you.