College graduation season has come to an end, and many recent graduates are deciding where they'd like to start their post-college lives. Though there are some states that are best suited for starting a career, there are others that young professionals may want to steer clear of.
According to a new study from BestColleges.com, a student resource website, West Virginia is the worst state to start a career, due to its lack of job openings and low average entry-level salary.
BestColleges ranked all 50 states on nine metrics, based on publicly available data, including average rent price, cost of living, average entry-level salary, number of job openings, racial/ethnic diversity and level of fun. These metrics were also weighed by level of importance.
Based on the findings, here are the 10 worst states to start your career:
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Young professionals want to live in states where they're paid well and have the opportunity for upward mobility – both areas in which West Virginia misses the mark.
Dubbed the Mountain State, West Virginia has struggled to recover from pandemic-related job losses over the past two years. The state lost 101,000 jobs during the height of Covid-19, and as of April 2022, West Virginia has 24,300 fewer jobs than before the pandemic.
Though West Virginia has a relatively low cost of living, recent graduates in the state shouldn't expect to bring home big paychecks. According to ZipRecruiter, the average entry-level salary in West Virginia is only $29,305 a year – 35% less than the average entry-level salary in New York, the best place for recent grads to start a career.
Maine, the second worst state, boasts a high cost of living and high average rent prices while having limited job opportunities, making it another less ideal state for professionals just starting out.
The average cost of living in Maine is about $45,272, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, much higher than the average entry-level salary of only $30,839 a year. Maine also lacks diversity, with less than 10% of Mainers being people of color.
BestColleges also advises recent graduates to consider other factors not mentioned in their study when deciding where to start a career.
"Variables like political climate, crime and safety, and weather can all play an important role in your decision to move somewhere new."