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Salt Lake City and Boise Top Forbes List For Young Professionals

Salt Lake City, UT and Boise, ID have nabbed the top spots, respectively, in Forbes’ “America’s 25 Best Cities For Young Professionals In 2017” list.

The rankings, aimed at informing the estimated 1.9 million million students who will graduate with bachelor’s degrees this year, weighs six metrics: recent grad median salary, median rent as share of median salary, unemployment rate, projected annual job growth, adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher and population aged 20 to 29.

You can see the full list here, but here’s the numbers on Salt Lake and Boise, courtesy of Forbes:

Salt Lake City, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area

Recent grad median salary: $50,500
Median rent as share of median salary: 17%
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Projected annual job growth: 1.56%
Adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher: 40%
Population aged 20 to 29: 13%

Boise City, ID Metropolitan Statistical Area

Recent grad median salary: $45,700
Median rent as share of median salary: 22%
Unemployment rate: 4.2%
Projected annual job growth: 1.87%
Adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher: 43% (5)
Population aged 20 to 29: 13%

Forbes noted a city like Salt Lake, which boasts over 20,000 businesses and a robust tech sector (Silicon Slopes, anyone?) scores high because of its higher than average median salary and lower rent costs. Other places, like San Francisco, may pay more on average, but rent is more rapacious when it comes to costs. From Forbes:

Of the six metrics we used, the best predictor of whether a city would make the list was the median salary earned by college grads with less than five years of experience. All five metro areas where wages are highest for young professionals made the cut. Meanwhile, rental affordability was the least correlated, with only one of the 10 most affordable cities in the country making it.

No. 3 San Francisco illustrates this pattern well. Young professionals in the tech capital earn a median salary of $68,400, the second highest wage in the country. (Nearby Silicon Valley ranked first at $69,200.) However, housing in San Francisco is among the least affordable in the nation. A room in a two-bedroom priced at the median eats up 40% of the median pre-tax salary. (The only big city that ranks worse by that metric is New York City, which did not make the list.)

San Francisco is perhaps the least surprising city on our list. The most surprising may be No. 2 Boise, Idaho, which makes the list thanks to strong job growth projections and a high percentage of adults with college degrees. Boise also ranked 13th on our list of the best places for business, in part due to its fast-growing tech sector. Government and business, however, remain the strongest sectors.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale in Arizona and the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan areas also scored well, taking fourth and fifth respectively. Seattle-Bellvue-Everett also made a decent showing, coming in at 17th.

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