Charleston, Columbia SC named top places for new graduates

Two South Carolina cities rank among the nation’s best places for college graduates to start their careers.

Two of the best places for college graduates to start their careers are in South Carolina, a national report finds.

Columbia is ranked No. 5 and Charleston is No. 6 on a list of U.S. cities with environments that make them ideal places for college graduates, according to results published Monday by WalletHub.

To determine the top destination to land, the personal finance website said it studied “182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state.” Using data from the federal government and other sources, analysts gave each city scores for quality of life and jobs.

Both Columbia and Charleston ended up high on the list after getting nods for their professional opportunities, results show.

Among all cities, Columbia offered the fourth-largest number of entry-level jobs per 100,000 people. The city also was one of the top overall scorers in the job category, a measure of starting salaries, unemployment and other factors, according to WalletHub.

Charleston scored lower than Columbia for jobs but edged out the capital city in WalletHub’s quality of life metrics. That category weighed the area’s young adult population, commute times, housing affordability, entertainment options and COVID-19 rates.

Recent graduates are entering the workforce as the economy is seeing signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have job openings as states continue to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions, The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.

It’s not the first time a South Carolina city has earned recognition for being a top place to live.

In August, Greenville was No. 10 on a list of the best cities for retirees, McClatchy News reported.

But South Carolina cities were snubbed on another recent list.

In April, no city in the state made it into SmartAsset’s top 10 places for new graduates. To come up with the findings, the website said it weighed jobs, costs and activities in more than 100 cities.

In the latest WalletHub report, Columbia and Charleston were the only cities in the Palmetto State that ended up in the rankings.

Overall, WalletHub said Salt Lake City was the country’s best place to start post-graduation life. Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey, landed at the bottom of the list.

Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.

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