The Job Market Is Bright For 2024 Graduates, But Where Is It Brightest?

A graduation mortar-board cap, and a note saying "Job"

The News Is Good For Cobb County, But Not So Much For Other Georgia Cities

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

When today’s high school freshmen and collegiate first-year students entered the classroom in the Fall of 2020, the future looked pretty bleak, with COVID-19, social distancing, a deep recession, and an insurrection a few months later. Now, as the 1980s eclectic band “Timbuk3” once said in their hit song, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” But where is it brightest? And are there a few dim patches across the state of Georgia, and even the country?

WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe notes “With the U.S. experiencing a low unemployment rate and many employers still having labor shortages, now is an ideal time to find a job. Currently, workers have a lot of negotiating power. Well-qualified job candidates are in a great position to acquire competitive salaries and benefits.”

Adam McCann, a financial writer with WalletHub, adds some additional good news. “The job market remained strong in 2023, and the unemployment rate is back around pre-pandemic levels. Some companies have even experienced labor shortages, which puts people looking for jobs in a position of leverage when it comes to negotiating their compensation and benefits.”

But that doesn’t mean every place in Georgia, or even in America, is doing well. Due to a variety of factors, from local problems to global supply chain issues, some cities may be more desirable for finding a job, and locating a career with longer-term prospects.

“Ultimately, your luck of finding work depends largely on location,” McCann adds. “To help you with job hunt, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 key indicators of job-market. They range from job opportunities per job seeker to employment growth to the monthly average starting salary.”

WalletHub’s data ranges from dark blue (first) to light blue (182nd), with a mix of dots spread out across the country so that it is nearly impossible to spot any regional trends illuminating a good or bad region overall.

But a closer look at the data does reveal some trends for collegiate as well as high school job seekers, in the Southeast USA, as well as the Peach State.

The Atlanta area comes in as the sixth-best place to a job, making the top ten in the job market ranking as well as being on the top 25 list for socioeconomic ranking. That’s good news for the Cobb County Class of 2024, who don’t have to go far to find some good prospects locally.

But if they stray beyond the friendly confines of the areas surrounding Georgia’s capital, it looks much bleaker. Columbus, Georgia ranks 174th in America for job prospects, and Augusta is in a tougher spot, coming in at number 178 on WalletHub’s ranking. For Birmingham in Alabama, it’s a mixed-bag. The city is 32nd for the job market, but 175th on the socioeconomic scale. It looks better in South Carolina for Columbia and Charleston, as well as Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Tampa & St. Petersburg, Florida.

So in conclusion, the overall economic picture is pretty sunny. But several spots across America are experiencing some dark clouds. Before venturing to an area, today’s graduates should check out the WalletHub list for job prospects, as well as the socioeconomic status, of the local area.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.