Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jun 11th 2009 at 9:00am UTC

What Gen Y Wants

Business Week examines how Gen Y is coping with the crisis. Boulder, San Francisco, and D.C. top the list. College towns and big cities dominate the list prepared by Kevin Stolarick and our MPI team.

So we dug into some Gallup data on what Gen Y wants in cities and here’s what we found:

Jobs are clearly important. Gen Y members ranked the availability of jobs second when asked what would keep them in their current location and fourth in terms of their overall satisfaction with their community ….

[T]he highest-ranked factor was the ability to meet people and make friends. Makes perfect sense, since Gen Y intuitively understands what economic sociologists have documented: Vibrant social networks are key to landing jobs, moving forward in your career, and one’s broader personal happiness. They not only desire a thick labor market but what I have come to call a thick mating market, where they can meet new people, go out on dates, and eventually find a life partner. They recognize what psychologists of happiness have shown. It’s not money per se that makes you happy; it’s doing exciting work and having uplifting personal relationships …

Where older Americans see high-quality schools and safe streets as key, Gen Y understandably ranks the availability of outstanding colleges and universities higher. Many are likely to go back to graduate school, and having great programs nearby is a big plus. When it comes to their overall community satisfaction, access to open space, being in an aesthetically beautiful city, and having access to vibrant nightlife are also quite important; Affordable housing, air and water quality, and availability of religious institutions matter too but slightly less so.

When we look at the factors that affect the likelihood Gen Ys will stay in their current community, the beauty of the place again mattered, along with its climate, the ability to get around easily with little traffic, and affordable housing.

This is important, because Gen Y members are considerably less attached to where they live than other Americans. About a quarter (26.5%) of them said they were extremely satisfied with the place they currently live, compared with nearly half (47.4%) of all Americans. Twentysomethings are on average three or four times more likely to move than forty- or fiftysomethings.

4 Responses to “What Gen Y Wants”

  1. hayden fisher Says:

    We’re seeing lots of migration south from DC to Richmond, Virginia where I live based upon affordable housing + an easier lifestyle with great pedestrian neighborhoods and relatively little commuter congestion generally, a river scene with expanding bike and running trails, etc. Our community is becoming increasingly more diverse with plenty of independent restaurants, a good nightlife scene, a growing arts community, two universities (one public, large and urban and the other quaint, private and elite) and many of the other attributes that Richard cites as the intangibles necessary for future success. Unfortunately, there are still some who don’t get it in leadership positions.

    Great piece!

  2. tpk-nyc Says:

    I went to college in Worcester (a town most people have never heard of). I’m shocked that it made the top ten. The list has quite a few unexpected places. Bridgeport? Albany? Many people want to be in the Northeast. The Sunbelt barely registers, with Austin the perennial and honorable exception. Very interesting.

  3. Michael Wells Says:

    I was shocked to see Worcester (pronounced Woostah’) too, until I realized this isn’t a survey of Gen Y but a list of places based on characteristics that appeal to them. Looking at the Business Week profiles it was interesting to see Worcester has a large gay/lesbian population. Quite a change from the aging industrial and working class burg I knew when I lived in that area.

  4. Rust Wire » Blog Archive » Why Don’t Ohio’s College Grads Want to Stay? Says:

    [...] Florida and his research teams have done some interesting work on this question. One thing that strikes me about the research is its focus on something that is [...]