I have always been fascinated by the glamorous big cities. Big cities bring together a diverse group of people and create exciting opportunities to work in harmony, which in other places might not have been possible. While there are many positives about big cities, overcrowded metros, expensive rent, and lack of public space are becoming major headaches to my lifestyle. I am a millennial.

As a millennial, I have always been interested in where my peers prefer to live and work. In fact, millennial migration is one of the hot topics for mayors and economic development officials all over the world. According to a recent study from the US census bureau, young adults (18-34) have the highest rate of migration. They are moving for various reasons such as getting a job, going to college, getting married, or having children. Hence, it is extremely important for cities to target this mobile workforce because the probability of migration falls with age (i.e. A 25 year old is twice as likely to move as a 35 year old). The faster cities can attract this talent force, the better chance they have at retaining them for years to come.

Migration Rates by Age

SKC1Jan16Source: http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/03/where-millennials-are-moving-now/388748/

So where are the millennials heading? This article in Forbes states that, from 2012 to 2013, population growth for millennials was highest in big-city suburbs and lower-density cities. Smaller metros such as Hartford, Worcester, Cleveland, Long Island, Albany, and Buffalo experienced millennial population growth higher than the national average. One reason could be that big cities are now becoming cramped, unpleasant, and ridiculously expensive. As a result, millennials are escaping major metropolitan areas altogether to more ideal urban areas. Cities such as Des Moines, IA are booming with millennials. According to an article in The Atlantic, Des Moines population of Millennials swelled from 2006 to 2013 at twice the average national rate. Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge are other examples of cities sparking millennial interest.

Millennial Population Growth by County Destiny, 2012-2013


Source: Millennials Are Suburbanizing, While Big Cities Are Having a Baby Boom, Forbes

So, in this age of talent shortage, attracting millennials could be the answer to many smaller cities’ workforce issues. By understanding the needs of millennials, cities can revive their growth and shape their future towards long-term prosperity. Cities like Philadelphia have already rolled out programs such as Campus Philly to retain students who have already migrated to colleges and universities. What can your community do to attract and retain this sector of the workforce?