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With the unemployment rate stuck above 9%, recent college graduates are facing fierce competition for white-collar work: More than 2 million college-educated workers 25 and older are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But prospects are much brighter in some cities than others, most notably Des Moines, Iowa, which ranks No. 1 on our list of Best Cities For Young Professionals.
The Iowa state capital has a higher concentration of big businesses (1 for every 568 residents) than any other city we assessed, which equals more job opportunities. Financial services and insurance companies like Principal Financial Group and EMC Insurance Companies have long made their home in the corn-belt city, earning it the nickname "Hartford of the West."
With business costs 16% below the national average, Des Moines has been attracting startups and companies relocating from the coasts, and a number of established companies in the area are expanding, like DuPont's bioscience unit Pioneer Hi-Bred, which plans to hire an additional 500 employees over the next few years. As a result, Des Moines boasts a low 5.8% unemployment rate (sixth lowest of the 100 cities we studied) and healthy projected job growth rates of 0.97% in 2011 and 2.86% in 2012.
"We're encountering a lot of young individuals moving here from larger cities where it would take five or 10 years to ascend into positions, where here they are having opportunities given to them to move more quickly into their career paths." says Mary Bontrager, vice president of workforce for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, a regional economic development organization.
The median salary for employed college graduates between the ages of 24 and 34 in the city is $47,200. That ranks only 42nd out of the 100 cities we screened for the list, but that salary goes further in Des Moines, where living...