Best and worst cities for starting a career

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College graduates looking for jobs may benefit from starting their search in the South—specifically, the Lone Star State.

Four of the five best cities for beginning a career are in Texas, according to a new study by personal finance network WalletHub. The study analyzed 150 U.S. cities on 19 metrics, including highest starting salaries adjusted for the cost of living, most entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents and job growth adjusted for population growth.

High cost of living pushed many major cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, out of the running for the top spots. "But Texas has a lot of job opportunities that will pay you well," said Jill Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for WalletHub, particularly when cost of living is factored in.

Read MoreDemand for college-educated employees is on the rise

Job growth is broad-based across large Texas metro areas, according to a 2015 economic outlook by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' San Antonio branch. However, it's expected to slow to between 2 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 3.6 percent in 2014, mainly because of lower oil prices.

Cities in the the Midwest's Rust Belt and California's Central Valley didn't fare as well as Texas. Gonzalez said fewer entry-level positions and slower job growth in these regions kept their cities at the bottom of the list.

Here are the five best—and the five worst—cities for starting a career, according to WalletHub.

By CNBC's Tom Anderson
Posted 11 May 2015

Detroit, worst city to start a career

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Detroit, which is emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, ranked dead last out of 150 cities to start a career, according to WalletHub. A lack of job growth and low median starting salaries kept the Motor City in the basement.

Fresno, Calif., the second-worst city to start a career

Downtown Fresno, California
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WalletHub found that Fresno was rock-bottom in professional opportunities for entry-level workers and ranked its quality of life (scored in part on the number of leisure activities, the city's population of people age 25 to 34 and affordable housing) 134 out of 150 cities.

Toledo, Ohio, the third-worst city to start a career

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A dearth of entry-level positions and a poor score on quality of life pushed Ohio's fourth-largest city near bottom of WalletHub's list of places to start a career.

Columbus, Ga., the fourth-worst city to start a career

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Low rankings on professional opportunities (142nd out of 150 cities) and quality of life (138th) did not bode well for the Muscogee County seat. Columbus has an unemployment rank of 7 percent, more than 1.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate, and it was the third-worst city for entry-level positions per 10,000 residents, according to WalletHub's analysis.

Stockton, Calif., the fifth-worst city to start a career

Pedestrians walk along the street in Stockton, California.
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Higher-than-average cost of living and an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent make Stockton a poor choice for people starting out in their careers, according to WalletHub.

Houston, the fifth-best city to start a career

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Houston led WalletHub's list of 150 cities with the highest starting salaries adjusted for cost of living. The median annual income is three times higher in Houston than in Honolulu, the analysis found.

Denver, the fourth-best city to start a career

Downtown Denver
Aaron Ontiveroz | The Denver Post | Getty Images

The only city in the top five places to start a career that isn't in Texas, Denver received high marks from WalletHub for professional opportunities for entry-level workers (eighth out of 150 cities) and quality of life (13th).

Austin, Texas, the third-best city to start a career

Austin, Texas.
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The state capital of Texas topped WalletHub's list of cities for career starters based on quality of life, and it came in 11th for entry-level opportunities.

Grand Prairie, Texas, the second-best city to start a career

Water tower in Grand Prairie, Texas
Source: GP user | Wikimedia Commons

This Dallas suburb came in fifth for the most entry-level jobs per 10,000 residents and tied for fourth out of 150 cities for the highest starting salaries when adjusted for cost of living, according to WalletHub's analysis. (Other cities that had scored higher in one category were lower in others.)

Irving, Texas, the best place to start a career

City Hall of Irving, Texas
Source: Irving, Texas City Hall

Yes, Irving, Texas. This Dallas suburb led WalletHub's rankings of professional opportunities, which was enough to put it on top of the list of best places to start a career even though it scored lower on quality of life—only 38th out of 150 cities. Irving, which has a population of about 232,000 residents, is home to 8,500 local and multinational companies, including the global headquarters of five Fortune 500 corporations.