Capital Region Continues to Attract Millennials
The Capital Region is increasingly being recognized as a hot spot for millennials, and particularly those fresh out of college or starting their professional careers. Forbes in June ranked Albany the nation’s 21st best city for young professionals, tying Atlanta. That followed ValuePenguin’s ranking of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) as the nation’s sixth best metro for new graduates.
Albany’s cost-of-living, particularly its median rent as a share of recent graduates’ median salary, drove the city up on the Forbes ranking. According to Forbes, the median salary for a recent graduate in Albany is $50,000 and the median rent as a share of that median salary is 12.7 percent. That ratio was lower than San Diego’s (22.3 percent), Portland, Oregon’s (16.4 percent) and the Maryland, D.C. suburbs (19.7 percent). The Albany metro area’s low ratio provides insight into why 9.9 percent of Albany-Schenectady-Troy millennials were able to live alone in 2015, compared to 7.4 percent statewide and 7.3 percent nationwide, according to U.S. Census Bureau five-year estimates.
The ValuePenguin ranking was more comprehensive, taking into account 27 lifestyle, jobs and affordability factors. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA ranked 24th in the lifestyle category, 23rd in jobs and 230th for affordability. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s overall ranking (6th) was higher than that of other tech metros, such as the Boulder MSA (13th), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA (18th), San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA (54th) and Austin-Round Rock (97th).
The Pew Research Center defines millennials as individuals born between 1981 and 1997. In 2015, there were 209,012 millennials born between these years in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA, or 23.8 percent of the area’s total population, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of Census Bureau five-year estimates. That put the metro area’s concentration of millennials slightly above the national average (23.5 percent) but below the state’s (24.3 percent). Within the five-county metro area, Albany County had the greatest share of millennials (40.4 percent), followed by Saratoga County (21.4 percent).
The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area is actually doing a better job at attracting millennials from outside New York than the state as a whole. In 2015, 5.1 percent of the metro area’s millennials had moved to the area from another state or country within the past year, compared to 4.9 percent statewide. However, the metro area’s rate was below the U.S. average rate of 5.6 percent.
Millennials are increasingly becoming a force in the metro area’s labor force. In 2015, millennials (ages 19-34) accounted for 30.9 percent of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area’s private sector employment, or 136,722 of 442,813 jobs, according to U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer beginning-of-the-quarter job counts. Millennials ranged from representing more than a quarter of finance and insurance and manufacturing jobs to more than half of the accommodation and food services jobs.
Metro Area Millennial Profile
In many ways, millennials in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area are faring better than their counterparts statewide and nationwide. For example, the area’s millennial unemployment rates are lower than those for the state and nation. Area millennials are also more likely to be single (never married) than their counterparts statewide and nationwide.
CEG recognizes that the Capital Region must continue to attract and retain a skilled workforce for its economy to prosper. To make the region a magnet for millennials and members of other generations, CEG and its partners in the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) process have supported consolidated funding application (CFA) projects focused on making places where people want to live and work.
Examples of placemaking projects include:
Converting Albany’s landmark Nipper building into an apartment complex with an upscale food market ($500,000 in REDC Round 6);
Transforming a vacant building in Downtown Troy into a vibrant co-working space at the Troy Innovation Garage ($100,000 in REDC Round 5); and
Creating a three-block Mill Artisan District in Schenectady ($2.3 million in REDC Round 6).
The Capital Region is making places that foster strong communities and drive economic growth. With last July 28 being the deadline for REDC Round 7 applications, CEG looks forward to seeing what the Capital Region Economic Development Council selects as its next batch of placemaking priority projects. Round 7 CFA awardees will be announced in the coming months.
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