Numbers Behind the News: The Fountain of Youth

William Frey of The Brookings Institution analyzed new Census data to identify the places that are attracting young people.   Keep in mind that young people are not moving in the numbers they once did, but the ones who do are choosing places that “have a certain vibe—college towns, high-tech centers, and so-called ‘cool cities’.

Top Region’s for Young Migrants (Employment growth Sep 2010 – Sep 2011)

  • Denver (0.4%)
  • Houston (2.6%)
  • Dallas (2.5%)
  • Seattle (1.6%)
  • Austin (2.2%)
  • Washington D.C. (0.3)
  • Portland (1.3%)

Older movers are choosing places like Phoenix, AZ and Riverside, CA, once booming regions where the bloom has faded but not disappeared.  It is not clear if this signals a long term trend in the making.  Frey’s data compares the trend from 2005-2007 to 2008-2010 so you can’t attribute too much to such limited data.  However, the gains made in attracting young movers can have long term payoff as they become adults and put down more roots in the community.

Another interesting element is that two of the cities, Denver and Washington, D.C. have had lower job growth than the national average (1.2%) from Sep 2010 to Sep 2011.  What attracts young people to these places must be something more than short-term or cyclical opportunities.  It is either that, or young people are making bad decisions.