Migration of Young Workers

by Dr. Ben on February 17, 2012

Young WorkersIs it time for you to consider relocating to an area with better job prospects?  Just like birds and animals migrate to locales with more favorable conditions so do people. Throughout history we’ve witnessed massive relocations of people due to war, climate, political and social conditions, etc.

Now we’re seeing a massive migration due to the Great Recession in the U.S.  A key demographic group, those aged 25 to 34 are moving by the thousands in search of better career prospects.  According to a recent analysis of Census data (as reported by Deborah Acosta, Miami Herald, 12/13/2011) the movement of young workers (especially those who are well-educated and skilled) has jumped in the 2008-2010 period.

The Brookings Institute ranked major cities into “gainers” and “losers” categories.  Top gainers were:  Denver, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, and Austin.  The biggest losers include:  Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami.  There is an interactive map for all metro areas over 1 million available at the Miami herald.

The gainers share characteristics of technology growth and lifestyle advantages.  Most of the losers have high cost of living and disproportionately fewer jobs in growth industries.

It is important for the future of cities that they retain and attract the “best and brightest” upwardly mobile young adults.  However, as with everything some are better than others at doing this, and young people recognize the importance of getting a good start in their careers.  So they leave the areas with poor prospects and move to areas with better opportunities.  This can be a difficult decision, leaving family and friends.

However, it underscores the importance of perceived economic opportunity in making life decisions.  Like the depression dust-bowl migration westward, the 21st century economic migration will have a lasting impact on the people involved as well as the areas they leave and those they decide to call home.

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