Feb 22, 2019

Currently Seeking Millennials: Cities throughout the country compete to lure this coveted talent demographic

Just what is it that Millenials want? It’s an important question. According to a report by Forbes, their collective spending power was a whopping $200 billion (yes, that’s billion) in 2017. As the oldest Millennials begin their 30s, they become increasingly desirable for businesses and municipalities seeking to entice this demographic to invest in careers and homes. Due to low national unemployment, American Millennials enjoy a variety of relocation options, should they decide to make a change.

It’s no secret our Region’s workforce needs more skilled labor. With Wisconsin’s unemployment rate hovering around 3%, the State has recently launched two significant attraction campaigns focused on UW graduates and veterans. Earlier, in January of 2018, the Walker administration launched a campaign to attract desperately needed Millennial talent from the Chicagoland area.

So what have we learned? Recent research tells us millennials are looking for four things in their next hometown.

  1. Many Millennials in Wisconsin are attracted to cities that don’t require the use of a car. (Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group)

According to a recent report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) entitled “Millennials on the Move”, 76% of respondents prioritized transportation options other than an automobile as “very important” or “somewhat important.” In addition, 55% of students surveyed were “somewhat more likely” or “much more likely” to remain in Wisconsin after graduating if their day-to-day life didn’t require the use of a car.

  1. Millennials prioritize affordability when making a relocation decision. (Livability Media)

While cited as a priority by both genders, 42% of women noted affordability was the most important factor in their decision to relocate and over 82% said a high cost of living would deter them from moving. It is also important to note that 40% of respondents from households earning under $50K considered $900 per month for rent or mortgage affordable.

  1. Diversity is important, but the definition depends on who you ask. (Livability Media)

A Livability.com survey found that many respondents were more likely to move to a place they perceived as diverse and inclusive, notably 93% of respondents from the Western United States. The question then becomes how diversity and inclusion is defined by Millennials and the answer varies depending on the demographic. Here are a few highlights:

– Most respondents with an annual household income of less than $50,000 defined diversity as a mix of races, income levels and sexual orientation.

– More than 70 percent of female respondents defined diversity as race, religion, nation of origin, income level and sexual orientation, versus 65 percent of males.

– 70% of respondents from the Midwest believe diversity includes religion, nation of origin, income levels and gender identity.

  1. Quality of life plays a major role. (Livability Media)

According to Livability Media, Millennials would take an average pay cut of $7,600 if they could find better work-life balance. Easy commutes, airport access, and the promise of a walkable, bike-friendly community are especially appealing. 41% of respondents with higher incomes even stated unfavorable traffic conditions would prevent them from moving for a promising job opportunity.

With cities throughout the U.S. in a battle to attract and retain Millennial talent, communities and economic development organizations need to be strategic, both in promoting their regions and in how they invest their development funds. The Madison Region is fortunate to be able to offer both a walkable, bike-friendly metro as well as smaller communities where the cost of living tends to be lower.