Study Finds Young College Grads Spur On Economic and Neighborhood Revitalization

"Having a well-educated, highly skilled population is key to higher wages and productivity."

Yesterday, City Observatory published “The Young and Restless and the Nation’s Cities,” a report focusing on 51 metropolitan areas (with a population of 1 million or more) that saw a particular change in their close-in neighborhoods, or “places within 3 miles of the center of each metropolitan area’s primary central business district.” You can read the full report here.

The gist of it, though, is this: Using recently released data from the American Community Survey, the study found that “urban cores” lured in a higher number of college-educated young adults–even in population-declining areas like Buffalo and Cleveland.

These migrating millennials (the 2012 study, which looked at people between the ages of 25 and 34, labels them as such in one of their graphs) displayed higher four-year college attainment rates than those from 2000, which is a good thing, according to the report:

Talented young workers are both economically important in their own right—playing especially important roles in meeting the labor needs of fast-growing knowledge-based firms—and also as a kind of indicator of the overall health and attractiveness of a metropolitan area.

Here’s what Better! Cities and Towns writes about that (with an additional comment from Joseph Cortright, City Observatory’s economist):

Over the past two decades, research has documented the links between a well-educated population to economic success, showing that having a well educated, highly skilled population is the key to higher wages and productivity.

“These talented young people are driving the renaissance in urban living currently underway in America’s cities,” said Cortright. “Having a well-educated, highly skilled population is key to higher wages and productivity. Policy makers would be wise to figure out ways to attract—and keep—these young people.”

How this group spurs on “economic success” can be seen in the businesses and startups that follow them:

Businesses are following. Businesses are increasingly locating in or near urban centers to better tap into the growing pool of well-educated young workers, and because these central city locations enable firms to better compete for talent locally and recruit talent from elsewhere.

Startups want them. The availability of talented young workers also plays a key role in the formation and growth of new firms. Startups and young firms employ disproportionately large numbers of young, well-educated workers.

For its part, Philly has seen its own rise in young college grads (which may account for the city’s housing bubble and rising home values and sales):