Why Young College-Educated People Are Flocking To Houston

Houston skyline
A railing from an apartment complex and the Houston skyline overlook the Buffalo Bayou as it snakes its’ way into downtown Friday, April 18, 2014 AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

The population of young, college educated people is surging more in Houston, Texas than anywhere else in the US.

A report released Monday by City Observatory showed that, between 2000 and 2012, Houston saw a 49% increase in its percentage of college graduates age 25 to 34.

This spike in young college-educated people may have something to do with the fact that Houston is the country’s No. 1 job creator. Moreover, 26 Fortune 500 companies call it home, resulting in plenty of career opportunities for recent graduates.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, from June 2013 to June 2014, Houston’s local nonfarm employment rose 3.1% — well above the national increase of 1.9%.

Houston is also dominant in one key industry: energy. With more students gaining degrees in science and engineering, the availability of jobs in the energy industry in Houston may be a significant draw.

There’s always another job here,” a 28-year-old college grad named Dena Washington told The Atlantic’s City Lab publication last year.

Houston also has an abundance of something else all penny-pinching young people can appreciate: affordable housing. According to MSN Now’s compilation of the 10 best cities for recent college grads, rents average $US1,311 in Houston, much lower than Boston and Washington, DC’s averages of around $US1,820.

Houston residents are also allowed to keep more of their income: Texas is one of only seven US states with no state income tax, which lessens the burden on recent graduates strapped with student loans.

More good news for broke millennials: a paycheck in Houston goes further than any other metropolitan area. When you adjust for cost of living, Houston has the highest pay in the country at $US73,418.

While Houston’s growing economy and job prospects are what draw young college grads in, its abundance of other young people and great food that keeps them there. The median age of residents is just over 32, and New York Times food critic Pete Wells wrote last year
that the city is becoming “one of the country’s most exciting places to eat.”

Houston as a city is also benefiting from this influx of young college grads. As City Observatory reports, educated young adults are playing a key role in urban revitalization and economic growth. Cities such as Houston that do more to help millennials achieve financial stability and independence will ultimately reap the benefits of a young and talented workforce.