A view of downtown Bozeman, Montana.
A view of downtown Bozeman, Montana. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Washington: Recent graduates need trek no further than the Rockies for a lucrative entry-level position.

The class of 2023 is entering a job market in flux, with large companies curbing hiring and rescinding offers as economic growth lags. But a new study by professional resume builder Resume.io shows that the feat of finding a well-paying role straight out of school isn't impossible - you just have to know where to look. To create its rankings, the company calculated the percentage of local entry-level job listings that offered a salary above and below the median hourly wages across all 50 US states and 223 major cities.

Bozeman, Montana, tops the list of cities with highly paid entry-level jobs, with nearly nine in 10 advertised entry-level positions paying more than the state's median wage. Home to a cluster of tech startups, Bozeman is a boomtown for entrepreneurs and nature enthusiasts alike, making it a prime spot for those looking to break into the technology or tourism industries. Silicon Valley tech hubs San Francisco and Oakland also rank high on the list of best cities for well-paying junior roles.

In stark contrast, Washington's robust intern economy means no salary to low salary is a common transition for new hires at nonprofit and federal organizations. Only a little over a quarter of starting wages surpass the local median pay. The next worst city for highly paid entry-level jobs is Honolulu, where tourism is a huge chunk of the local economy - and also tends to pay the lowest wages of any sector. Four cities in Massachusetts also make the rankings, with Lowell leading the bunch.

"If you look at the groupings at the very top, you're seeing a lot of middle America, you're seeing a lot of Midwest," said Amanda Augustine, resident career expert at Talent Inc. "Big cities are accustomed to just having entry-level candidates flock to their areas but I think it's going to become more difficult to fill those roles in the future."

Expensive metros are seeing more college graduates move out than move in for the first time in recent history, according to reporting by The New York Times. As wealth migration tilts the US economy's center of gravity south and living costs creep up in coastal cities, low starting salaries may be a final deterrent from pursuing a big-city lifestyle for those having just left school.