07/05/2016 Rochelle Tishuk

LinkUp ranks the top U.S. cities for new college graduate job seekers 

shutterstock_230410570Now that July is upon us, most of the spring graduation ceremonies should be over and the graduation parties are in full swing. But once the parties are over, do these new graduates know which U.S. cities will offer them the most opportunities?

Using a variety of economic measures along with LinkUp’s unique dataset of 3 million jobs from 30,000 companies, we reviewed the top 30 U.S. cities by population to determine which 5 cities would offer the most opportunities for new graduates.

Here are the top five cities:

1 Minneapolis – St. Paul 17,549
2 Washington, DC 27,538
3 Dallas-Fort Worth 24,925
4 Denver 16,291
5 San Francisco Bay area 35,457


The Twin Cities rank #1 in our list for a variety of reasons:

  • Low unemployment rate at 3.4%, well below the U.S. average of 4.7%.
  • 26 Fortune 1,000 companies such as Target, 3M, Best Buy, and UnitedHealth Group.
  • 6th highest median hourly wage at $20.14. Money will go further in the Twin Cities considering it ranks #17 out of 30 in cost of living and #18 in median home costs.
  • A highly educated workforce: ranked #4 out of 30 for most educated workforce.
  • The economy is highly diversified (government, higher education, health care, arts and entertainment, consumer and producer goods), which contributes to strong labor market conditions.

If you can withstand your first winter in Minnesota, you may just find yourself calling Minnesota “home” for a long time to come.


A highly educated workforce, significant job openings, and a diversified economy make Washington, DC #2 on our list. Highlights include:

  • Low unemployment rate at 3.5%
  • Strong spending on public education with an average of $15,555 spent/student and only 14 students/teacher in public schools.
  • Highest median hourly wage among the 30 cities at $24.37.
  • 30 Fortune 1,000 companies including General Dynamics, Capital One Financial, Northrop Grumman, and Dollar Tree.
  • High concentrations of federal offices and military contractors.

Although, the DC metro area has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S. (#5 ranking), the high salaries and plethora of opportunities make this an ideal location for new graduates.


The Dallas-Fort Worth area, often referred to as The Metroplex is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the U.S. The low cost of living coupled with a high concentration of corporate headquarters place The Metroplex at #3 on our list. Strengths include:

  • 38 Fortune 1,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil, American Airlines, AT&T, and Texas Instruments.
  • Cost of living at 3% less than the U.S. average.
  • Median home price of just over $200,000.
  • Low unemployment rate at 3.5%.

The Metroplex does rank fairly low in both hourly wages (#21 out of 30) and educated workforce (#22 out of 30). But, the low cost of living helps to offset the low wages and the less educated workforce makes for less competition for new college graduates.


The Mile High City provides recent college graduates with unparalleled beauty, solid economic conditions, and an attractive quality of life. Highpoints include:

  • Lowest unemployment rate among the 30 cities at 3.3%
  • Ranks among top 10 cities for hourly wage, educated workforce, and population growth.
  • 19 Fortune 1,000 companies including Arrow Electronics, DISH Network, DaVita HealthCare Partners, and Molson Coors Brewing.

Although Denver came in #4 on our list mainly due to mid-range number of job openings and higher cost of living, U.S. News & World Report recently named Denver as the #1 place to live among large U.S. cities.


The Bay Area’s fifth-place ranking reflects its many attractions, yet it poses some challenges to new college grads. Highlights include:

  • Extremely high number of job openings especially in highly sought after fields such as high tech and engineering.
  • Second highest median hourly wage at $24.19.
  • Low unemployment rate at 3.7%.
  • 24 Fortune 1,000 companies including Apple, McKesson, Chevron, HP, and Alphabet (formerly known as Google).

The Bay Area’s proximity to Silicon Valley and high income jobs make it an attractive destination, but the extremely high cost of living means that recent grads are likely to share apartments or face long commutes.

LinkUp would like to wish all the 2016 graduates much success in their career search. To find your next job, go to www.linkup.com to search the highest quality job listings available on the web today.


The LinkUp analytics team used a variety of measures to determine this top 5 ranking:

  • Number of Jobs: Based on new jobs created in May 2016 from LinkUp’s dataset of 3 million jobs from 30,000 companies (linkup.com).
  • Population Growth: Bureau of Labor Statistics, % change from 2000 to 2010 (bls.gov)
  • Unemployment Rate: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016 (bls.gov)
  • Cost of Living: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Fortune 1,000 Companies: 2015 list (http://beta.fortune.com/fortune500/)
  • Median Hourly Wage: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016 (bls.gov)
  • Public School Spend/Student: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Public School Students/Teacher: Updated June 2014 (bestplaces.net)
  • Median Home Cost: 2015 revised (www.realtor.org)
  • Most Educated Cities: Updated 2015 (wallethub.com)

Extra weight was given to Number of Jobs, Unemployment Rate, Cost of Living, Number of Fortune 1,000 companies and Median Hourly Wage.

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