The Opportunity Map

photos by Getty Images

The Opportunity Map

By Francesca Di Meglio

No one knows the difficulty of launching a career during a crippling economic downturn better than the Class of 2009. But a little information can make the task a lot easier. To that end, we gathered information on employers in 30 U.S. cities with job openings for new college grads from AfterCollege, a group that connects recent college graduates with employers, as well as data on average salaries, unemployment rates, and cost of living.

What follows is a list of 30 U.S. cities where, for the most part, job opportunities and salaries are still strong, unemployment rates are moderate, and the cost of living will not strain an entry-level budget. At the top of the list: Indianapolis, where the pay isn't great but the cost of living is among the lowest in our study and 180 employers have job openings for new college grads. Only three other cities had more.

Methodology: Starting with the 30 cities with the largest numbers of employers posting entry-level positions on the AfterCollege site, BusinessWeek compiled the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on each city's average annual pay and unemployment. From the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), we obtained data on the cost of living in each city. The jobs data contributed 40% of the final ranking; pay, cost of living, and unemployment contributed 20% each. Note: an earlier version of this slide show used the Consumer Price Index as the cost-of-living indicator. Replacing the CPI with C2ER data resulted in a change in the ranking.