10 of the toughest cities to launch your career

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Knoxville, Tennessee, is one of the hardest places to launch a career.
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iStock / Sean Pavone

Finding the right job that will lead to a successful career has a lot to do with how and when you search for employment – but as it turns out, where you look also plays a big role.

According to new data from personal finance website Bankrate.com, young people consider five things when deciding on where to launch their career: social opportunities, job prospects, pay potential, career advancement, and quality of life.

By analyzing these five variables in the top 100 US cities (those with populations above 250,000 and a per capita GDP of above $40,000), Bankrate.com determined which cities are most and least ideal for starting a career.

To rank the cities, each of the five variables was scored on a scale of 1 to 100 – 1 being the best and 100 being the worst – considering metrics like employment rates, average salaries, and cost of living. (Read more on the methodology here.)

The following 10 cities are the lowest ranking on the list – the places where it’s hardest to launch a career. But, as Bankrate.com banking analyst Claes Bell points out, “not everyone is looking to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, so cities that ranked low on our list may be very desirable to some.”

Read on to find out the 10 toughest cities for launching your career.


10. Roanoke, Virginia

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Flickr/jpmueller99

Social opportunities: 99

Job prospects: 26

Pay potential: 82

Career advancement: 82

Quality of life: 49


9. Greensboro, North Carolina

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Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

Social opportunities: 81

Job prospects: 67

Pay potential: 96

Career advancement: 76

Quality of life: 54


8. Shreveport, Louisiana

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iStock / McFarlandPhoto

Social opportunities: 72

Job prospects: 79

Pay potential: 77

Career advancement: 96

Quality of life: 55


7. Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Social opportunities: 77

Job prospects: 79

Pay potential: 77

Career advancement: 96

Quality of life: 55


6. Knoxville, Tennessee

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iStock / Sean Pavone

Social opportunities: 89

Job prospects: 66

Pay potential: 92

Career advancement: 88

Quality of life: 40


5. Montgomery, Alabama

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Shutterstock

Social opportunities: 68

Job prospects: 89

Pay potential: 95

Career advancement: 89

Quality of life: 36


4. Jackson, Mississippi

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Shutterstock

Social opportunities: 63

Job prospects: 95

Pay potential: 85

Career advancement: 91

Quality of life: 56


3. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas

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Flickr/Nicholas Henderson

Social opportunities: 86

Job prospects: 83

Pay potential: 79

Career advancement: 98

Quality of life: 98


2. Mobile, Alabama

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Shutterstock

Social opportunities: 84

Job prospects: 88

Pay potential: 99

Career advancement: 99

Quality of life: 43


1. Fayetteville, North Carolina

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Shutterstock

Social opportunities: 18

Job prospects: 100

Pay potential: 100

Career advancement: 93

Quality of life: 22