A recent Brookings Institute report emphasizes the millennial generation is “the demographic bridge to the nation’s diverse future,” and they’re moving mostly to the South and West.
Millennials are young adults born between 1981 and 1997. Totaling 75 million adults, they represent nearly one fourth of the total U.S. population, 30 percent of the voting age population, and nearly two-fifths of the working age population.
They are choosing to live in urban core and suburban counties, contributing to the growth of metropolitan areas primarily in Colorado, Texas, and Florida. Of the 100 largest metropolitan areas and 50 states, the report surveyed population growth and the share of these areas’ millennial populations and their racial and ethnic compositions.
Of the 10 fastest-growing areas with millennials and with growth rates exceeding 10 percent, Colorado Springs ranks first with 14.7 percent growth, San Antonio second with 14.4 percent, and Denver third with 12.8 percent growth. The others are Austin, Houston, and San Antonio in Texas, Orlando, Cape Coral, and North Port-Sarasota in Florida, and Honolulu and Seattle.
Divergent growth patterns, the report notes, reflect a numbers of factors, including housing costs and economic growth. West Virginia and Illinois registered losses of young adults in 2010-2015. Seven states “mostly in the middle of the country” reported growth of less than 2 percent, the report states.
In the top ten cities with the highest percentage of millennials, Colorado Springs has the sixth highest share of millennials, 26.4 percent of its population. Among the areas with the greatest percentages of millennial college graduates, Denver closes out the top ten.
“By moving in greater numbers to Colorado Springs and Denver, millennials bring with them a modern perspective and skill sets, particularly modern-day tech-know-how, which will help keep the cities vibrant and relevant for many years to come,” Jimmy Sengenberger, president and CEO of the Denver-based Millennial Policy Center, told Watchdog.org.
Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Colorado Springs has been a well-kept secret for many years.
“Travelers have long-known the beauty and draw of our region and destination as we’ve seen a long list of prestigious recognitions," Price said in a statement. "We’ve seen vast investment into our community, which creates a better quality of life, and visitor experience. Now is the perfect time to chart the future for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, and that’s why we’re undergoing a 10-year Destination Master Plan to map that course. It’s vital to assess our strengths and areas for growth to continue on this positive path for residents and visitors.”
Colorado Springs also ranked as the second most desirable place to live in America out of the 100 largest metro regions by U.S. News & World Report in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Colorado ranked second for being the best state to get a job, according to Department of Labor employment data and a WalletHub analysis. WalletHub also ranked Colorado as having the seventh best state for healthcare and the tenth best public school system.
“Colorado’s prosperity and appeal are arguably rooted in three main things: captivating natural beauty, a robust environment for economic opportunity and a fast-growing, exciting society," Sengenberger said. "The Denver and Colorado Springs areas offer the chance for youthful millennials to enjoy city life without having to travel far to the offerings of the Rocky Mountains, which are themselves selling points – to ski, hike, raft and more.”
William H. Frey, senior fellow at Brookings and author of the report, “The Millennial Generation,” said “Millennials are already making an indelible impact on the nation, as the most diverse – and now largest – adult generation. As the bridge between a whiter, older America and the multi-hued country we are becoming, millennials will pave the way for the generations behind them as workers, consumers, and leaders in business and government in their acceptance by and participation in tomorrow’s more racially diverse nation.”
According to U.S. Census data, racial minorities make up more than two-fifths of the millennial population nationally, more than half of the population in 10 states and in 30 of the largest metropolitan areas.
“While much attention has been given to this generation’s unique attributes – its technological savvy, its tolerance and independence, and its aversion to large institutions – one aspect of millennials is most relevant to its future impact on the nation," Frey said, "its racial and ethnic diversity.”
Sengenberger said Colorado should welcome millennials and their diversity, but to keep the state flourishing well into the future, policy decisions remain vital.
With the upcoming gubernatorial election, Coloradoans and millennials should prioritize a leader who will protect the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which he argues “has been critical in restraining excess government and promoting fiscal responsibility and individual prosperity.”
Sengenberger also points to the need for leaders to “balance the desire for environmental stewardship while fostering a sector that is crucial to the wellbeing of its people.” He emphasized that the state’s energy industry, particularly natural gas, is “thriving and integral to the state’s economy in job and wealth creation and output.”
Colorado is the eighth largest state geographically and the 21st most populous. In 2016, its estimated population was 5.5 million, a ten percent increase from its 2010 Census population count. Its registered voters are nearly split evenly among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.