Columbia sixth in nation for best job destination for college grads

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COLUMBIA – Columbia is ranked the sixth best job destination for college graduates by the American Institute for Economic Research.

The study states that cities with a “vibrant, young, well-educated population attract other young, well-educated grads”.

A recent graduate from the University of Missouri Mitch Kulczak said he plans to stay in Columbia because of a number of factors.

“There’s a lot of people my age still,” Kulczak said. “It’s a very young, and it still is, it’s a young city. And I think the affordability is a big factor.”

The rankings were based on quality of life, work opportunities and the presence of other young people.
Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick described Columbia as a “never aging” community.

“It’s a diverse community with a young population, yet at the same time, it’s a great place, we’re always ranked very high on, a place to retire,” McCormick said.

In addition, the study states that a strong economic climate attracts the young and well-educated.
McCormick said Columbia’s low unemployment rate and diverse job base is a big factor.

“We don’t rely on one specific industry type,” McCormick said. “Our three main drivers, of course are education, insurance, and health care, which all three tend to have very good jobs and good paying jobs. Along with that, we have a diverse make up of manufacturing to retail to services, so it has a little bit of everything.”

“Columbia is just a lot more affordable for people my age, especially for somebody starting out with a starting salary,” Kulczak said. “And there’s a lot of opportunities here too.”

McCormick said attracting young college graduates to Columbia has always been a goal for the city because it benefits the community in the long run.

“It brings new leadership,” McCormick said. “It brings in, if you look at it from a social service type side, it brings in a new folks to volunteer. It brings in new ideas. And it brings in young families to grow families.”

The study states that although a number of factors contribute to college graduates moving to certain places, the most important factor the American Institute of Economic Research found was that young college graduates move where they will find an established group of other well-educated young professionals.

The American Institute for Economic Research ranked the cities by four metro sizes. Columbia was ranked in the smallest metro.