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Atlanta makes top 10 list for new college graduates

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Analysis: Low cost of living, high salaries make ATL a great place for recent grads, but we’re no Madison.

Tech tower with Bobby Dodd Stadium behind.
Georgia Tech provides plenty of graduates to the Atlanta market—that is, those The Bay Area doesn’t siphon away.
Ethan Trewhitt via Georgia Tech

With a relatively low cost of living and loads of lucrative jobs in high-tech industries, Atlanta cracked the new NerdWallet ranking of America’s top 10 cities for recent college grads.

Atlanta was one of the highest ranking Southeastern cities, behind only Arlington, VA. Other major grad-hubs include Seattle at No. 3, Boston at No. 5, Washington, D.C. at No. 6, and San Francisco at No. 7.

Atlanta was barely edged out by Austin, which came in at number eight.

Madison, Wisconsin bagged the study’s No. 1 slot.

Analysts looked at the percentage of those in the City of Atlanta proper, age 25 and older, who hold bachelors degrees (27 percent), median earnings for those with degrees, rent for those in the demographic, the percentage of workers in management, business, science, or the arts, and finally the unemployment rate.

While Atlanta ranked middle-of-the-road on those with degrees and median earnings, low rents earned the city high marks. According to the study, rent costs amount to just 22 percent of the median annual income around here.

The only city in the top 10 better was Minneapolis at 21.7 percent. That’s interesting.

Still, there were some metrics that Atlanta could certainly improve upon.

Atlanta had the highest unemployment among recent grads, coming in at nearly 5 percent, falling on the higher end of the top 50 list.

If Amazon ends up choosing ATL for HQ2, look for Atlanta’s graduate allure to climb even higher (though affordability, observers say, would take a hit).