Using census data, the study tracked the net migration of young adults in the top 20 urban areas in the U.S. between 1980 and 2010, and tracked where four demographic cohorts chose to move: ages 20-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-64. They found that, over the three decades studied, young adults became progressively more urban, and that that has largely driven the urban resurgence of the past two decades, Florida reports. Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers showed a far greater preference for the suburbs as young adults. The increased preference for cities over suburbs among young adults began with late Gen Xers in the 1990s and has continued with Millennials.
Young adults' reasons for preferring cities differ by generation. The 20-24 group has the strongest preference for amenities (retail, entertainment, recreation, and food-service employment), but amenities have played an increasing role in attracting 25-34s over time. The biggest factor for the 25-34 and 35-44 cohorts is access to transit, probably because of work commuting, Florida reports.
It's not news that urban and suburban areas attract more people. But rural areas don't need to win a numbers game: It doesn't take most young people moving back to rural areas after college to improve local economies -- just more of them. And it helps to understand what drives where they choose to live.