Which Metros are Winning the War for Talent?

By Amy Holloway, President & CEO

Which metros are growing their workforce and which are falling behind? With so many communities engaged in talent attraction and retention campaigns, we’ve been curious about who is actually succeeding, especially when it comes to increasing their supply of Millennials.

Our newly released interactive Headlight map answers this burning question. By clicking on the link, you can explore the top 10 and bottom 10 metros for population growth by age cohort, year, and time period.

Among large metros (1+ million population), Austin ranks #1 in population growth for Gen X and older over the past five years, but slips to #2 for Millennials behind Orlando, and further down the list for Gen Z.

Other successful large metros for Millennial growth over the past five years include Seattle, San Antonio, Denver, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Chicago is the only large metro to see a decrease in Millennial population between 2013-2017.

Interestingly, looking at population growth of 25-34-year-olds over the past year alone, Austin completely falls out of the top 10, and metros like Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh, and Detroit rise up on the list.

Mid-sized metros (500,000 to 1 million population) with the greatest increase in Millennials over the past five years include five Florida metros along with Colorado Springs, Spokane, Charleston, Greenville, and Lancaster. Jackson, Mississippi, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, are the only two medium metros to experience a net loss of Millennials.

If you want to explore this data and much more (such as rankings for small metros, counties, and states), click here.

What ultimately drives growth (or loss) of population? It’s impossible to point to a single cause. Job availability and quality of life certainly influence where people put down roots. We believe that accessibility, affordability, and adaptability also matter. Can people plug into a community and feel welcome and accepted? Can people afford a home while having money left over to have fun? Does the community embrace and adapt to change?

Being based in the ATX ourselves, we wonder why Austin completely fell out of the top 10 list for Millennials over the past year? Is the reason something as shocking as a global epiphany by young people that North Carolina BBQ rules over Texas brisket, or hot chicken makes a better handheld meal than breakfast tacos? Or, has Austin become a victim of its own success as increased traffic congestion and rising housing costs threaten its likeability? It could be, too, that Seattle, Charlotte, Nashville, and others in the top 10 are simply doing a better job at making their case for attracting and retaining young workers.