Top Major Metro Area Great For College Grads

July 02, 2014

Top Major Metro Area Great For College Grads

All the pieces seem to come together for one U.S. city when it comes to best places to live and work for recent college graduates.  Denver tops the charts in a number of key areas including, employment opportunities, wages, affordable housing and lifestyle for millennials looking to relocate right out of college. 


Excellent Prospects For Employment


For starters, the state of Colorado is one of only a handful of states in the nation to fully recover all of its jobs lost in the recent recession, coming in fourth in job growth for the country overall.  That’s not all.  According to Nathan Kelley, economist for Moody’s Analytics, Colorado wages are 18 percent higher than the nation’s average.


The state continues to expand in a variety of industries including construction, aerospace, energy and tech-related fields.  Many science and tech-based jobs are growing and require entry-level college graduates to fill positions.  While recent grads will obviously have to find the right match for their particular skill set, according to Moody’s director, Steven Cochrane, “The broad economic environment ought to be pretty good.”


While the West appears to be growing the fastest for jobs available in a particular region, Colorado specifically has worked to attract major companies to the area including DaVita, Arrow Electronics and Redwood Trust who’ve created thousands of new, high paying positions.  "There are a lot of things going for Denver that are really putting it ahead of the pack," added Moody’s economist.


Affordable Housing put Denver in the number one spot for "Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates."  While cities ranked based on employment, wages, career potential, affordability and “city scene”, Denver was also chosen for the top spot based on the city’s unemployment rate, (under seven percent) and the cost of a one-bedroom apartment, (below 25 percent of an earner’s gross median income).


The affordability factor that affected the top ranking for recent college grads includes the price of a one-bedroom rental of about $1,248 per month based on a median annual income of $64,267.  With unemployment scarcely breaking 4.3 percent and the median age of residents at 31.5, the city is an attractive choice for recent college grads.  In fact, for the past few years the state of Colorado has ranked fourth among the states with the youngest population (ages 25-29).

Ryan McMaken, economist for the Colorado Division of Housing warns against unrealistic expectations however.  "If you are expecting to move here and get a one-bedroom apartment and live on your own, unless you have a pretty decent job, that probably is not realistic".  The average college grad, just out of school will have to make no less than $47,500 a year to be able to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment he points out.


That’s not going to be a problem for most up and coming residents with degrees in technical fields and computer science according to Moody’s Nathan Kelley.  Much of the demand for employees in Denver is directed toward these fields with starting salaries well above numbers needed to make a go of it in Denver’s metropolitan area.


Josh Wright, data analyst for EMSI, a labor market and economic data firm points out that Denver employs 24 percent more workers in positions that require special technical training or a college degree than the national average.  This puts Denver seventh among 50 metro areas in the nation and just behind San Jose, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin.  The company, EMSI projects about 12, 687 skilled jobs will be added in 2014 to the Denver metro area as well.  Software development, accounting, computer analysis and civil engineering are among the top fields where many highly skilled, well-educated employees will make high wages.



Skilled Labor Positions


The demand for precision machining capabilities has grown recently and companies are finding it more and more difficult to find a pool of skilled employees to choose from.  As companies begin to move manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., Denver area colleges including Front Range Community College work to provide programs that train individuals for specific jobs in the area as well.  Mold makers/machinists are  highly sought after according to senior manufacturing engineer, Larry Hartman of Mountainside Medical that manufactures surgical instruments.  Positions such as these will continue to bolster an already strong workforce in the Denver metro area.




The Six Major Companies Who Control What We Eat

July 02, 2014

The Six Major Companies Who Control What We Eat

Hard to believe that with thousands of grocery store products from pizza to pickles only a handful of major conglomerates produce most of our canned goods, frozen foods, soft drinks and breakfast cereal.  Without a doubt most of us rely on just six major companies to feed ourselves, and our families everyday. 

Whether we shop name brands at super mega-market stores or small area markets, more than half the time the products are made by one of these companies:

Kraft—In addition to cheese products, A1 Steak Sauce, Miracle Whip, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs and Stove Top Stuffing are all either made by Kraft, or one of its companies.

PepsiCo—PepsiCo makes Doritos, Gatorade, Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix and Captain Crunch Cereal, in addition to several different soft drink products.

ConAgra Foods—Jiffy Pop, Kid Cuisine, PAM Cooking Spray, Parkay Margarine and Slim Jim Beef Jerky Sticks are products of ConAgra.

Nestle—Cookie Crisp, Nescafe, Stouffer’s, Tombstone Pizza and Baby Ruth Candy Bars are all produced as one of 8,000 Nestle brands.

General Mills—Betty Crocker, Progresso, Yoplait Yogurt and Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls are General Mills products in the U.S.

Campbell’s Soup Co.—Pepperidge Farm, Swanson, Prego Soups and Spaghetti-O’s are all courtesy of Campbell’s.

According to the consumer rights group, Food and Water Watch in a 2013 report, 63.3% of grocery store sales are generated by sales from the major six.  The report also found that 75% of purchases in 32 grocery categories were tied to four or fewer parent company brands. 

So, if you think you’re making choices based on many manufacturers, the truth is your probably only buying from a handful of companies who make what most of us eat everyday.

U.S. News Releases Top Ranked Public High Schools In The Nation

July 02, 2014

U.S. News Releases Top Ranked Public High Schools In The Nation

On the heels of the Obama Administration’s commitment to pump $100 million into public schools to better prepare students for technical careers in the future, a 2014 U.S. News study reveals the best public high schools in the nation.  While 31,200 high schools from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were evaluated, results for 19,400 were recently published through the U.S. News and World Report website,  Demographic information as well as AP (Advanced Placement), and IB (International Baccalaureate) test results were reported as well.

U.S. News, together with American Institutes for Research, based in Washington D.C. awarded schools gold, silver and bronze medals based on how well students performed on state assessment tests, and how effective schools were in the education of minority and economically disadvantaged students across the nation.  The study also evaluated participation and performance on student AP and IB exams and the ability of these programs to prepare students for college-level coursework.

Top 10 Performers

One Dallas, Texas high school took home the gold, and designation as the top public high school in the nation—School for the Talented and Gifted.  This isn’t the first time for TAG who has placed number one for the past three years in a row and requires students to take a minimum of 11 AP courses throughout their Junior and Senior years at the school.  As part of regular curriculum the School for the Talented and Gifted encourages students to work through area universities for field research as well.

The BASIS, Scottsdale Charter high school earns the number two spot in the country and ranks number one in Arizona public high schools for education overall.  Its Tucson North campus dropped to the number five position in the nation this year however, but with 701 students the school still scores 100.0 on the college readiness index. 

Gwinnett School of Mathematics Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia rank third and fourth respectively among top performing high schools in the nation, while Pine View School in Florida ranked number six in the country. 

University High School, Arizona earned the number seven position, while the Dallas, Texas School of Science and Engineering Magnet ranked number eight.  The International Academy in Michigan holds the position for ninth best public high school in the nation, followed by the Oxford Academy, California that came in tenth in the country.

The state that obtained the most gold medals of any in the country was California, with 105 gold medal-high schools overall.

Of the top 500 high schools in the nation, charter and magnet schools were awarded 155 medals.  U.S. News ranked each of these types of schools separately as both screen prospective students through an application process or the use of a lottery system that limits enrollment.  Magnet schools also rely on a process that attracts the most academically gifted students in a particular area.

The US News report further ranks best charter schools in the nation, best magnet schools, as well as best high schools for STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Schools were evaluated based on AP test scores in calculus, physics and computer science.  Gold medal schools were the only high schools evaluated for STEM achievement and only 250 schools ranked high enough for consideration in this category.

All in all, 500 high schools earned a gold medal ranking, 1,519 took home silver and 2,688 were awarded bronze.

U.S. News & World Report covers a variety of areas including engineering, law, medicine, business and social sciences.  The magazine is widely known for its ranking of educational institutions including high schools, universities and graduate schools in the United States.