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ERI Economic Research Institute Releases Survey on Best and Worst Cities for College Grads Based on salary/cost of living, Knoxville, TN rated best

REDMOND, WA - 7/6/2006 12:00:00 AM - 

According to a recent study by ERI Economic Research Institute (www.erieri.com), Knoxville, Tennessee and Bridgeport, Connecticut are the most affordable cities for a college graduate just entering the workforce; while New York City and San Francisco are the least affordable.


College graduates living in Manhattan earn salaries that are 20% above the national average, but the cost of living is over twice the national average. In Knoxville, salaries are 8% below the national average, but the cost of living is 22% below the national average, affording new graduates a significantly higher standard of living.

"Knoxville is a 'creative class' city with the things college graduates are looking for," says Michael Edwards President & CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. "The city has an energy fed by the innovative things happening at the University of Tennessee and the National Lab located here, a vibrant downtown, and fantastic outdoor recreation opportunities including those in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On top of that, we've seen rising wages and the creation of more than 20,000 net new jobs in the last three years. Knoxville is a great place for anyone to build a career – particularly college graduates."

According to ERI's 2006 Geographic Reference Report, the unemployment rate is low in Knoxville: 4.1% compared to the US National Average of 4.6%.

For its Affordability Index, ERI compared the cost of living in 261 US metro areas using its Relocation Assessor® software. Then using its Salary Assessor® and Geographic Assessor® software, ERI looked at local salaries for entry-level jobs in five fields: accounting, law, teaching, sales, and engineering.

The 10 most affordable cities for college graduates are:

City
Rank
Salary Level Compared to National Average
Cost of Living Level Compared to National Average
Affordability Index

Knoxville, Tennessee
1
-8%
-21.5%
13.5%

Bridgeport, Connecticut
2
15%
+2%
13%

Kokomo, Indiana
3
-2%
-14.9%
12.9%

Reading, Pennsylvania
4
0%
-10.3%
10.3%

Florence, Alabama
5
-10%
-19.1%
9.1%

York, Pennsylvania
6
-3%
-10%
7%

Peoria, Illinois
7
0
-5.6%
5.6%

Charleston, West Virginia
8
-8%
-13.6%
5.6%

Idaho Falls, Idaho
9
-8%
-13.4%
5.4%

Huntsville, Alabama
10
-6%
-10.8%
4.8%

The 10 least affordable cities are:

New York – Manhattan
261
20%
119.4%
-99.4%

San Francisco, California
260
21%
102.1%
-81.1%

Washington, DC
259
7%
66.2%
-59.2%

Honolulu, Hawaii
258
12%
64.6%
-52.6%

Los Angeles, California
257
13%
61.2%
-48.2%

San Diego, California
256
7%
48.3%
-41.3%

Sarasota, Florida
255
-8%
30.4%
-38.4%

Boulder, Colorado
254
2%
36.3%
-34.3%

Boston, Massachusetts
253
14%
46%
-32%

Bangor, Maine
252
-9%
22.6%
-31.6%

The rankings for all cities surveyed are:

Rank City Index
1 Knoxville, Tennessee 13.5
2 Bridgeport, Connecticut 13
3 Kokomo, Indiana 12.9
4 Reading, Pennsylvania 10.3
5 Florence, Alabama 9.1
6 York, Pennsylvania 7
7 Peoria, Illinois 5.6
8 Charleston, West Virginia 5.6
9 Idaho Falls, Idaho 5.4
10 Huntsville, Alabama 4.8
11 Springfield, Ohio 4.6
12 Las Vegas, Nevada 4.4
13 Gary, Indiana 4.3
14 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 4.3
15 Green Bay, Wisconsin 4.1
16 Richland, Washington 4
17 Clarksville, Tennessee 3.8
18 Waco, Texas 3.6
19 Riverside, California 3.5
20 Duluth, Minnesota 3.4
21 Memphis, Tennessee 3.4
22 Syracuse, New York 3.1
23 Allentown, Pennsylvania 3.1
24 Springfield, Illinois 3
25 Birmingham, Alabama 3
26 Pocatello, Idaho 3
27 Binghamton, New York 2.9
28 Beaumont, Texas 2.4
29 Little Rock, Arkansas 2.4
30 Bremerton, Washington 2.3
31 Muskegon, Michigan 2.2
32 Pine Bluff, Arkansas 2.1
33 Brownsville, Texas 2.1
34 Springfield, Massachusetts 1.9
35 Vineland, New Jersey 1.6
36 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1.6
37 Lynchburg, Virginia 1.5
38 Bismarck, North Dakota 1.2
39 Salem, Oregon 1.1
40 Longview, Texas 1.1
41 San Antonio, Texas 0.8
42 Akron, Ohio 0.7
43 Buffalo, New York 0.6
44 Amarillo, Texas 0.6
45 New Brunswick, New Jersey 0.5
46 Cincinnati, Ohio 0.5
47 Erie, Pennsylvania 0.5
48 Altoona, Pennsylvania 0.3
49 Lansing, Michigan 0.2
50 Salisbury, North Carolina 0.2
51 South Bend, Indiana 0.1
52 Tulsa, Oklahoma 0.1
53 Lubbock, Texas 0.1
54 Greenville, Mississippi 0.1
55 Bakersfield, California 0
56 Johnstown, Pennsylvania 0
57 Fort Wayne, Indiana -0.2
58 Chattanooga, Tennessee -0.3
59 Grand Forks, North Dakota -0.4
60 Utica, New York -0.5
61 Lima, Ohio -0.5
62 Hartford, Connecticut -0.6
63 Waterloo, Iowa -0.6
64 Casper, Wyoming -0.6
65 Des Moines, Iowa -0.9
66 Galveston, Texas -1
67 Milwaukee, Wisconsin -1.1
68 Racine, Wisconsin -1.1
69 New London, Connecticut -1.2
70 Houston, Texas -1.3
71 Florence, South Carolina -1.3
72 Fairbanks, Alaska -1.5
73 Modesto, California -1.5
74 Fort Smith, Arkansas -1.5
75 Rochester, New York -1.6
76 Jackson, Mississippi -1.6
77 Nashville, Tennessee -1.9
78 Albany, Georgia -1.9
79 Saginaw, Michigan -2
80 Rockford, Illinois -2
81 Louisville, Kentucky -2
82 Appleton, Wisconsin -2
83 Canton, Ohio -2
84 Boise, Idaho -2
85 Anderson, Indiana -2.1
86 Corpus Christi, Texas -2.1
87 Pueblo, Colorado -2.1
88 Scranton, Pennsylvania -2.1
89 Frankfort, Kentucky -2.1
90 Providence, Rhode Island -2.2
91 Champaign, Illinois -2.3
92 Lake Charles, Louisiana -2.4
93 Fargo, North Dakota -2.4
94 Chico, California -2.6
95 Reno, Nevada -2.7
96 Benton Harbor, Michigan -2.7
97 Yakima, Washington -2.8
98 Billings, Montana -2.8
99 Kingsport, Tennessee -3.1
100 Fayetteville, Arkansas -3.1
101 Newport News, Virginia -3.2
102 La Crosse, Wisconsin -3.2
103 Detroit, Michigan -3.3
104 Norwich, Connecticut -3.3
105 Youngstown, Ohio -3.3
106 Monroe, Louisiana -3.4
107 Elkhart, Indiana -3.5
108 Abilene, Texas -3.5
109 Nashua, New Hampshire -3.6
110 Shreveport, Louisiana -3.6
111 Laramie, Wyoming -3.6
112 Vallejo, California -3.8
113 San Bernardino, California -3.8
114 Trenton, New Jersey -3.9
115 Danbury, Connecticut -4
116 Savannah, Georgia -4
117 Helena, Montana -4.1
118 Poughkeepsie, New York -4.2
119 Spokane, Washington -4.3
120 New Haven, Connecticut -4.4
121 Indianapolis, Indiana -4.4
122 Tuscaloosa, Alabama -4.5
123 Rock Island, Illinois -4.7
124 El Paso, Texas -4.7
125 Newark, New Jersey -4.8
126 Gainesville, Florida -4.8
127 Tallahassee, Florida -5.1
128 Lancaster, Pennsylvania -5.1
129 Augusta, Georgia -5.2
130 Melbourne, Florida -5.2
131 Cleveland, Ohio -5.3
132 Terre Haute, Indiana -5.3
133 Provo, Utah -5.4
134 Evansville, Indiana -5.6
135 Eugene, Oregon -5.7
136 Montgomery, Alabama -5.6
137 Tacoma, Washington -5.6
138 Toledo, Ohio -5.7
139 Macon, Georgia -5.8
140 Pensacola, Florida -5.8
141 Baton Rouge, Louisiana -5.9
142 Great Falls, Montana -5.9
143 Dayton, Ohio -6
144 Norfolk, Virginia -6
145 Pierre, South Dakota -6.1
146 Jamestown, New York -6.2
147 Wichita, Kansas -6.2
148 New Bedford, Massachusetts -6.5
149 Orlando, Florida -6.5
150 Anchorage, Alaska -6.6
151 Roanoke, Virginia -6.6
152 Rochester, Minnesota -6.7
153 Springfield, Missouri -6.7
154 Sioux Falls, South Dakota -6.7
155 Grand Rapids, Michigan -6.8
156 Topeka, Kansas -6.8
157 Sioux City, Iowa -6.8
158 Alexandria, Louisiana -6.8
159 Minneapolis, Minnesota -6.9
160 Madison, Wisconsin -6.9
161 Twin Falls, Idaho -6.9
162 Paramus, New Jersey -7
163 Concord, New Hampshire -7
164 Sacramento, California -7.1
165 Omaha, Nebraska -7.1
166 Lincoln, Nebraska -7.1
167 Santa Rosa, California -7.2
168 Worcester, Massachusetts -7.2
169 Winston Salem, North Carolina -7.2
170 Ann Arbor, Michigan -7.6
171 Bellevue, Washington -8
172 Albuquerque, New Mexico -8
173 Burlington, Vermont -8.1
174 Brockton, Massachusetts -8.2
175 Kansas City, Missouri -8.3
176 Fayetteville, North Carolina -8.5
177 Columbus, Ohio -8.6
178 Salt Lake City, Utah -8.6
179 Lexington, Kentucky -8.6
180 Petaluma, California -8.8
181 Albany, New York -8.9
182 Pittsfield, Massachusetts -9
183 Tampa, Florida -9
184 Bradenton, Florida -9.2
185 Austin, Texas -9.4
186 Greensboro, North Carolina -9.4
187 St Louis, Missouri -9.6
188 Colorado Springs, Colorado -9.6
189 Olympia, Washington -9.7
190 Richmond, Virginia -10.2
191 Mesa, Arizona -10.2
192 Fort Collins, Colorado -10.3
193 Greenville, South Carolina -10.4
194 Cedar Rapids, Iowa -10.5
195 Stockton, California -10.6
196 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -10.6
197 Asheville, North Carolina -10.8
198 Fort Myers, Florida -10.9
199 Wilmington, North Carolina -11.3
200 Wilmington, Delaware -11.4
201 Denver, Colorado -11.4
202 Manchester, New Hampshire -11.5
203 Fort Worth, Texas -11.5
204 Lafayette, Louisiana -11.5
205 Dallas, Texas -11.6
206 Baltimore, Maryland -11.8
207 Carson City, Nevada -11.8
208 Miami, Florida -12
209 Columbia, South Carolina -12
210 Battle Creek, Michigan -12.3
211 Rapid City, South Dakota -12.7
212 Columbus, Georgia -13
213 Boca Raton, Florida -13.1
214 Fresno, California -13.3
215 Raleigh, North Carolina -13.3
216 Everett, Washington -13.5
217 Bellingham, Washington -13.5
218 St Cloud, Minnesota -13.5
219 Huntington, West Virginia -14
220 Tucson, Arizona -15.1
221 Jacksonville, Florida -15.5
222 Atlantic City, New Jersey -15.7
223 Portland, Maine -15.7
224 Portland, Oregon -15.9
225 Phoenix, Arizona -15.9
226 Charlotte, North Carolina -16.6
227 Seattle, Washington -16.7
228 Chicago, Illinois -16.9
229 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -17.4
230 Cheyenne, Wyoming -17.6
231 Santa Fe, New Mexico -17.7
232 Monterey, California -17.9
233 Ventura, California -17.9
234 Fort Lauderdale, Florida -17.9
235 Stamford, Connecticut -18.5
236 San Jose, California -18.8
237 Atlanta, Georgia -19.3
238 Las Cruces, New Mexico -19.4
239 Daytona Beach, Florida -19.5
240 Parkersburg, West Virginia -20.2
241 Flagstaff, Arizona -21.7
242 Charleston, South Carolina -22.8
243 Juneau, Alaska -23.4
244 Santa Cruz, California -23.4
245 Oakland, California -25.5
246 Portsmouth, New Hampshire -25.5
247 Santa Barbara, California -25.9
248 Long Beach, California -26.4
249 Brookhaven, New York -26.5
250 Queens, New York -30.8
251 Anaheim, California -31.2
252 Bangor, Maine -31.6
253 Boston, Massachusetts -32
254 Boulder, Colorado -34.3
255 Sarasota, Florida -38.4
256 San Diego, California -41.3
257 Los Angeles, California -48.2
258 Honolulu, Hawaii -52.6
259 Washington, District Of Columbia -59.2
260 San Francisco, California -81.1
261 New York-Manhattan, New York -99.4

"Look beyond just the salary when choosing a job," says ERI Senior Associate Jim Brennan. "Rent, utilities, taxes, and transportation are keys to affordability."

For example, ERI's Relocation Assessor software calculates an entry-level attorney in Boulder, Colorado will pay $10,900 more per year on rent and utilities, $2,000 more on taxes, $1,800 more on consumables, and $400 more on transportation than in Knoxville, Tennessee. That's over $15,000 more to purchase the same standard of living (based on renting a 700 sq. ft. apartment and owning one car worth $7,000 that's driven 15,000 miles per year). But an entry-level attorney can only expect to earn $3,800 more working in Boulder than in Knoxville.

ERI Economic Research Institute, Inc., is a compensation research firm specializing in salary survey and cost-of-living analyses. Based in Redmond, Washington, ERI provides compensation information to 10,000 organizations worldwide. With data gathered from online surveys and an extensive survey library, ERI's staff of 50 provides subscribers with compensation analyses including assessments on salary, relocation, the cost of living, and executive compensation in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries throughout Europe. To learn more about ERI's compensation reports and software, visit www.erieri.com.



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