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Reports Highlight Best Cities for Recent College Grads, Where Millennials Are Moving

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My inbox fills weekly with tons of college- and demographic-related information. Over the past week or so, I received updates on two new reports: Best Cities for Recent College Grads and Millennials Moving to These Cities. Let’s take a look at where the best opportunities lie for collegians land where millennials are headed.

First up is HeyTutor’s “Best Cities” report. Here are some excerpts from their intro about where grads are finding work:


… employment opportunities, income, and cost of living vary widely across the U.S. For recent graduates, it’s important to find a city that offers the right balance between all three. To find which U.S. cities provide the best opportunities for recent graduates, tutoring firm HeyTutor analyzed data from the American Community Survey, County Business Patterns, and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Its researchers created a composite score based on the following metrics:

- Median income for recent college graduates

- Unemployment rate for recent college graduates (lower is better)

- Median rent (lower is better)

- Median home value (lower is better)

- Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses per 1k recent college graduates

- Proportion of population that are recent college graduates

- Cost of living (lower is better)

For the purpose of this analysis, recent college grads are defined as residents ages 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, not currently in school. To improve geographic relevance, HeyTutor’s researchers only considered major metropolitan areas with at least 1 million residents. ...

Key findings:

- The median income for all recent college graduates in the U.S. is $37,000 per year. Among large metropolitan areas, this ranges from a high of more than $65,000 per year in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara to a low of $30,000. This statistic includes all recent graduates (working full or part-time) with income.

- The national unemployment rate for recent college graduates is a low 3.7 percent. Similar to income, unemployment rates vary significantly by location—from less than 1 percent up to 8.2 percent among large metros

- Among the 53 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, rent ranges from a low of $772 per month to a high of $2,213 per month. The national median monthly rent is just over $1,000.

- The proportion of recent college graduates in a given metropolitan area is generally low, ranging from less than 1 percent up to 3.5 percent. A few percentage points means a lot within this small range.

- The 10 best large metropolitan areas for recent college graduates are not what one might expect. Neither New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, nor Washington D.C. made the cut. The best locations are generally not on either coast. The top 10 locations offer competitive wages, lower living costs, employment opportunities, and plenty of fun for residents outside of the office.

I’m omitting a lot of additional information, but you can read that for yourself. Here, then, are the Top 10 best large metropolitan areas for recent grads, counting down to number one:

10. Rochester, N.Y.

9. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.

8. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

7. Oklahoma City, Okla.

6. Pittsburgh, Pa.

5. Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

4. Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.

3. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

2. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

1. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

For each of these Top 10, there is a detailed numerical and text narrative explaining why they are such great places for grads to head. This is well worth your time to explore.

Next is a seemingly related study from HavenLife: Where are millennials moving? Here’s a brief look at the report’s introduction, followed by the Top 10:

A recent Gallup Report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, describes millennials as slightly “unattached,” meaning they are less likely to stay in one community, do not feel close ties to their jobs, and are more likely to job-hop than previous generations. Millennials are also devoted to wellness, spending more time and money on exercising and eating healthy, according to the Goldman Sachs report Millennials Coming of Age.

Lifestyle choices and preferences also dictate where millennials live and where they choose to move. In this analysis, Haven Life ranked metropolitan areas according to the percentage change in the population of millennials from 2012 to 2017 using Census Bureau data. At the metropolitan level, the data shows that millennials tend to live in expensive locales with high wages, home prices and the overall cost of living. In these cities, experiences are plentiful and there are myriad opportunities to form relationships with like-minded people....

When asked how millennial families are responding to skyrocketing housing costs in coastal states, Campbell cited data from National Van Lines that shows how Washington, California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey are among a group of states experiencing a net loss of residents. Whereas, more affordable states like Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona and Colorado are experiencing a net inflow of residents....

Here are the Top 10 metropolitan areas with the largest percentage increase and decrease in millennials over the past five years:

1. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.

2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

4. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

5. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

6. Raleigh, N.C.

7. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.

8. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

9. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.

10. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

Included for each metro area (54 are listed) are data for the following categories: Millennial Population Change; Population Proportion; Median Earnings; Median Home Price; and Cost of Living.

These two reports provide important information about trends that can give you a head start on where to look for work and appealing areas in which to live. Even if you’re not yet a college student, or you’re a college undergraduate with graduation down the road, these data resources should become an important part of your long-range planning arsenal.