Where college grads move after school has the potential to change the demographic landscape of the nation. More and more young people are going urban and choosing to live within three miles of various city centers, and not just in New York or Los Angeles. The largest increases in college graduate populations are in Denver, San Diego, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Portland. For this influx of talent, the chosen cities may just become the country’s next economic powerhouses.
While Americans are becoming less likely to move as a whole, the young and college-educated are on the move and don’t seem to be settling down until their mid-30s. According to Edward Glaeser, “the most successful economic development policy is to attract and retain smart people and then get out of their way.” Economist Enrico Moretti’s findings indicate that five additional jobs are eventually created in that city for every one college graduate taking a job in an innovation industry.
This kind of growth, Moretti said, feeds on itself; the abundance of recent graduates in a city incentivizes more companies to move in, which in turn draws in more young people. In the last 15 years, the amount of college graduates in major metropolitan areas has gone up by 25 percent.
Denver, in the top spot, is now home to 47 percent more recent grads than in 2000 (almost double the increase in New York in that time). It’s appeal seems to be the convergence of many desirable features, including a booming tech industry, mountains, and sunshine alongside “cultural cool” stemming from businesses like microbreweries and local law in favor of marijuana and same-sex marriage.
Youth is being drawn to city centers and away from the suburban lifestyle of their parents. While some may leave as they age, demographers predict that many of these new residents will remain in their chosen city to bolster urban economies far into the future.