Summer has waned and people are heading back to school or back to work. But for relatively recent college graduates whose careers were essentially put on hold by the Great Recession, the end of summer is time to redouble their job search. A March 2014 report by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that only 64 percent of 2008 graduates had full-time jobs one year out of college—a striking number even compared to similar recession-era classes of 2000 (78 percent) and 1994 (79 percent). Economic crises wreak particular havoc on young people, who often have a harder time finding that crucial first job and get started in their careers.
So Labor Day is a good time to ask: Where are the best job markets for recent college grads?
With the help of the economic and labor market data firm EMSI, we ranked America’s 100 largest metros based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figureson full-time regular employment for some 320 occupations that require post-secondary education, including bachelors’, masters’ and doctoral degrees, as well as more specialized training. These jobs, in fields like nursing, engineering, business, media, and education, pay an average of $34.28 an hour, or $71,300 a year. Across the United States as a whole, 2.2 million such jobs were created from 2010 and 2014, of which the 100 largest metros accounted for 1.7 million, roughly eight in 10.
The rankings are based on five key factors:
- The percent change in jobs requiring post-secondary education from 2010 to 2014.
- The percentage of 25-34 year olds who hold these positions.
- The average wages for these jobs requiring post-secondary education.
- The concentration of these jobs based on their "location quotient," or LQ for short.
- The share of new jobs requiring post-secondary education that can be attributed to local economic conditions or competitiveness.