The Best Metro Areas for a Talent Pipeline

Josh Bays

Josh Bays | February 17, 2017

When making site selection decisions, companies are faced with selecting locations that possess the skillsets needed to satisfy their immediate hiring needs. They also must look for communities that have the workforce development infrastructure and broad demographic profiles needed to develop talent over an extended period of time.

Given the drop in unemployment and the increased competition for workers,both objectives have proven to be a difficult proposition for companies in the U.S. Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory, corporate real estate and economic incentives firm, routinely evaluates workforce conditions on behalf of our corporate clients seeking to locate their manufacturing plants, distribution centers, corporate headquarters, call centers, shared service operations and data centers. 

Future millennial population growth
Regardless of hiring for immediate needs or developing a pipeline of talent, companies have placed a high priority on accessing the millennial population. Although the millennial population has been defined in a multitude of ways, Site Selection Group generally classifies the post-college population under 35 as millennials. Based on the latest demographic models, Site Selection Group researched the 10 metro areas with populations over 250,000 that are expected to experience the most growth in millennial population over the next five years. What is especially interesting is the geographic diversity of the top 10. 

Top Metro Areas for Millennial Growth

 Metro Area 2016 Age 21
to 24
2021 Age 21
to 24
% Increase
Boise City, ID 35,723 41,658 16.6%
Raleigh, NC 64,706 75,256 16.3%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 48,179 55,401 15.0%
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 30,711 35,068 14.2%
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 14,446 16,265 12.6%
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 29,705 33,243 11.9%
Kennewick-Richland, WA 15,385 17,214 11.9%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 124,142 138,775 11.8%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 381,714 426,415 11.7%
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 36,441 40,629 11.5%

What is Generation ‘Z’ and why is it important?
Most demographers would classify Generation ‘Z’ as a subset of the millennial generation. Technically speaking, Generation ‘Z’ is the population that is too young today to enter the post-college workforce, but will be eligible for professional employment (ages 21-24) in five years. Most companies with a proactive view of their workforce needs identify this population segment to satisfy their longer-term hiring needs. Site Selection Group researched the 10 metro areas with a population over 250,000 expected to experience the most growth in the Generation ‘Z’ population over the next five years.

Top Metro Areas for Generation Z 

 Metro Area 2016 Age 25 to 34 2021 25 to 34 % Increase
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA 35,053 42,278 20.6%
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 34,790 40,914 17.6%
Tucson, AZ 131,906 152,731 15.8%
Eugene, OR 47,493 54,814 15.4%
Boulder, CO 43,529 50,162 15.2%
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 53,155 60,157 13.2%
Fort Collins, CO 47,452 53,564 12.9%
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 60,907 68,327 12.2%
Wilmington, NC 37,789 42,376 12.1%
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 115,109 128,516 11.6%

Metros with positive growth rates for both millennials and Generation ‘Z’ are rare
Companies also consider communities that can both attract and retain young people throughout their young professional years.  As demonstrated by the two lists above, what attracts a new college graduate is not always the same as what a young professional looks for when starting a family or buying a home.  The top metro areas population over 250,000 with the highest percent increase of the combined 21 to 34 age groups are listed below.

Top Metro Areas with a Young Future Workforce

 Metro Area 2016 Age 21
to 34
2021 Age 21
to 34
% Increase
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 79,197 88,246 11.4%
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 168,157 185,573 10.4%
Port St. Lucie, FL 66,397 73,212 10.3%
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 99,706 109,240 9.6%
Laredo, TX 54,533 59,488 9.1%
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 49,908 54,057 8.3%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 103,107 110,950 7.6%
Ocala, FL 50,218 54,026 7.6%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 155,789 166,897 7.1%
Stockton-Lodi, CA 140,865 149,983 6.5%

As noted above, many factors play a role in identifying the optimal labor market for a new operation.  Across industries, whether to access new and in-demand skillsets or to backfill the large number of baby boomers entering retirement, new and expanding companies place a premium on hiring and retaining the millennial workforce.  And as a result, Site Selection Group increasingly places more weight in its analyses on identifying those communities that offer companies access to this critical demographic.  




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