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Don’t start your career in Newark, New Jersey, new study warns

One of the biggest decisions you can make is whether or not you should move for a job. And when you’re just starting out in your career, the stakes are high to get this decision right, because you could be stuck there for a while.

According to a February Pew Research Center study, millennials are the demographic group that’s least likely to be married, to own a house, or to have a child. All of these are reasons that should make geographic mobility easier for millennials, but the Pew Research Center also found that they are the group that’s least likely to move.

Only 20% of people ages 25 to 35 had moved to another city in 2015. Researchers suggested that poor labor market opportunities are a significant factor to why millennials are squatting and staying put.

So knowing the economic costs to moving at a young age, we recognize that deciding where you live needs to be a careful career decision. When you do decide to pack up your bags for a job, where to go? A new WalletHub study has some answers.

Analyzing the 150 biggest cities in the U.S., WalletHub found out the best and worst places for people to start a career. Using government and policy data, analysts looked at key metrics on professional opportunities and quality of life including workforce diversity, starting salaries, and availability of entry-level jobs.

Move to Salt Lake City, Utah, and avoid Newark, New Jersey

The top places to start your careers were Salt Lake City, Utah, Orlando, Florida, and Austin, Texas.

“Salt Lake City ranked number one for multiple reasons across both categories,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told Ladders. “It ranked first in number of entry-level job openings, with 4263.20 job openings per 100,000 residents aged 16 and up. It also ranked first in the unemployment rate category, at just 2.8%. Regarding quality of life, Salt Lake City ranked 9th highest in terms of the percentage of the population aged 25 to 34, and 12th in strength of social ties.”

In other words, in Salt Lake City, you’re most likely to find a job and maintain a social life with people your own age.

Meanwhile on the opposite side of the spectrum, Augusta, Georgia, Cleveland, Ohio, and Newark, New Jersey were the worst places to start a career.

What particularly hurt Newark was its lack of jobs.

Gonzalez said that professional opportunities in Newark are “unfortunately few and far between right now.” Newark only had 781.43 job openings per 100,000 residents, giving it the 126th worst jobs-to-population ratios in the study. “It also ranked 142nd in median household income growth rate at -1.44% and 141st in unemployment rate at 7.6%,” Gonzalez said.

By weighting professional opportunities 40 points more than quality of life in its metrics, the study was more focused on where young professionals could get a first job, not what kind of life those early jobs would give them. “This study is centered around the idea of starting a career—thus, the professional opportunities metric was given a more dominant role,” Gonzalez said. “However, not including a quality of life category at all would be doing a disservice to those looking to relocate for a career.”

So think of Salt Lake City as your best starter city. It’s a place to figure out your career and professional network. Once you’re more stable in that area of your life, you can open up those real estate listings elsewhere.