Where are the Least Competitive Job Markets for College Grads?

Being a college grad in this economy is not easy at all, as finding a job is the hardest it's been since the Great Depression. Millions of grads report that they just can't find a job in the area they studied, are vastly underpaid compared to the median salaries, or have to take a low-paying job in a completely unrelated field. That being said, not every single city in the United States reflects that ethos, and doing your homework can result in a much shorter wait tie to land that job than you expected. We take a look at where job openings are more in line with college grads' expectations, and where you should be looking to apply.

7. Salt Lake City, Utah

You'll have to duke it out with six other applicants per job, but the rewards of sticking with it are there: only 69,100 unemployed in a city of 1 million, and plenty of jobs in respiratory therapy, family and general practice, and physical therapy. Try staying away from jobs in firefighting, employment, recruitment and ad placement specialization if you're looking to get hired quickly.


  • Income: $38,000 per person, compared to $55,869 for household for the state as a whole.


6. Portland, Maine

The Eastern Portland is a booming city for college grads, with a job-to-applicant ratio of 1:6. It's not a big city (there are only 230,000 people living in Portland), but you'll only come across 18,900 of them being unemployed. Therapy is also another trend you'll encounter, with occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physical therapy assistance the top job fields.


  • Income: $35,000 per person


5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

You're battling a bit of a tough job-to-applicant ratio of 1:3, but those are still darn decent odds when you consider you have a 33% chance of landing the jobs you apply for. And when you compare it to the 4.7% unemployment rate and 2.9% job growth rate from 2010 to 2012, your odds get even better.


  • Income: $26,500 per person, with only $1,300 in monthly homeowner costs.


4. Des Moines, Iowa

Jobs in medical- and wellness-related fields, like medical/health services managers, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, are your best bets, as those are the most abundant. But if you're just packing up with your degree in tow, you stand a pretty good chance of employment with a 1:5 job-to-applicant ratio.


  • Income: $38,000 per person, with only 20,100 unemployed out of 556,200 residents.


3. Omaha, Nebraska

When you move to Omaha, you'll be greeted with an awesome job-to-applicant ratio of 5:1, giving you more than your fair choice of work to choose from. As a bonus, the unemployment rate is a meager 3.6% — well below the national average of roughly 6% — and your monthly homeowner costs are only $1,300. Try looking for jobs in physical or occupational therapy, or as a physical therapist's assistant.


  • Income: $27,400 per person, with a job growth of 2.8% from 2010 to 2012.


2. North Dakota

According to the Fullbridge Program's index, North Dakota has a very solid rating of 84, which means "significantly low competition: best employment prospects". But if that isn't enough to change your mind, how about an income jump of 17% from 2000 to 2012 because of the oil-and-gas boom? It's a state that's hot right now, and you can jump in before the peak drops.


  • Income: $53,585 per household, a climb of more than 10% since 2008.


1. Washington, DC

The nation's capital is a hub of politics and activity, but it's also one of the hottest places a new college grad can look for a job. The ratio of jobs to applicants is 6:1, and some of the job fields you should be looking at include HR, Marketing and PR, Real Estate/Construction, Law, and Operations/General Management.


  • Income: $88,233 per household


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