When looking for a place to settle down, one might consider cities with active cultural scenes or intellectual communities. However, young people today are looking beyond those factors and moving to where the jobs are. Portland, for example, has a thriving social scene and is one of the nation’s leaders in attracting college graduates, but it ranks 40 as the best place for young adults. A high cost of living, stagnant job growth, and a 9.6 percent jobless rate among 18 to 34 year-olds have tarnished Portland’s reputation as the dream city for life after graduation.
You can see the economic shift in this country by looking at the best cities for young people. The Southwest is now the haven for those in their 20s and 30s looking to establish their lives and careers. Austin, which ranks number one on the list, has the highest annual employment-growth rate in America at 2.8 percent. This has increased the concentration of 18 to 34 year-olds in its metro area to 28 percent, the most of all cities in the study and well above the average of 23.1 percent. Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Boston, Houston, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth and Tulsa round out the top eight.
However, economics do not dictate everything. North Dakota, which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is still not a major draw for those right out of college. The cities that have attracted young people in droves not only offer employment and lower costs of living, but also provide some sort of cultural scene. However, if the recession continues to limit job growth on the coasts, North Dakota may build its metro areas to cater to younger crowds, and thus provide them with more than just a steady, good-paying job. Fargo has seen positive net migration every year since 2003, and the state of North Dakota was positive for the first time this decade in 2009. The middle of the country is slowly becoming hot place to be.