LA GRANDE — Young people looking for a good place to start their careers would be wise to give Union and Baker counties a close look.

In a new report, financial technology company SmartAsset.com, based in New York City, ranks Union County as the sixth best county in Oregon for a person in the 20-24 age category to start a career and Baker second.

Deschutes County was ranked first. It was followed after Baker by Morrow, Clackamas, Marion, Union, Jefferson, Wasco, Washington and Douglas counties.

SmartAsset made its rankings based on the following factors: the unemployment rate for those age 20-24, the net median income, cost of living, purchasing power, income growth over the past five years and cost of attending college.

The unemployment rate in Union County for those age 20-24 is 7.2%, tied with Baker County for second place behind Morrow County, which had the lowest age 20-24 unemployment rate among the top 10 counties at 6.7%, according to SmartAsset.

Suzannah Moore-Hemann, executive director of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, credits Union County’s strong showing in the unemployment category to efforts of employers to provide job shadowing opportunities and internships for students.

"It shows that (local employers) are strong supporters of those starting careers," Moore-Hemann said.

In terms of median income growth over the past five years, Union County ranks eighth at 10.6%. Baker County is seventh at 8.5%, according to the report.

Smart.Asset also listed the cost of living data in its report, although it was not used directly in its calculations for determining the best places to start a career. Union County ranked the second lowest in that category at $18,383 per year, while Baker County had the lowest cost of living among the top 10 at $18,359.

Moore-Hemann said Union County’s low cost of living is a plus for young people starting careers because it "helps those who are paying off college loans."

SmartAsset, a company launched in 2012, uses financial modeling to give advice on major financial decisions. Its new study also provides information on the best places to start a career in all 50 states.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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