Columbia ranks as 5th-best city to start a career.

Columbia ranks fifth in the country in a recent survey rating more than 180 U.S. cities as best places for recent college graduates to start careers.

WalletHub compared the relative market strength and overall livability of the cities as part of an examination of 28 key metrics ranging from availability of entry-level jobs to monthly average starting salary to housing affordability. Columbia ranked fifth among professional opportunities and 31st in quality of life to net an overall score of 61.10 on a 100-point scale.

Salt Lake City, second in both professional opportunities and quality of life, led the nation with a score of 69.15. Charleston ranked sixth in the country with a score of 60.88, ranking ninth in professional opportunities and 14th in livability.

The survey included the 150 most-populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state.

WalletHub cited U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing the unemployment rate for people ages 20-24 at 10.5% in April 2021. However, a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that employers plan to hire 7.2% more graduates from the class of 2021 than they did from the class of 2020.

Andy Chan, vice president of innovation and career development at Wake Forest University, said in the WalletHub survey that cities can help attract both industry and talent.

"City policymakers might consider offering incentives for high-growth employers to build offices and operations in their cities," Chan said. "Investing in community-building services, resources, and programs that are...

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