Growing up in median Virginia Beach, Andrew Waldholtz wanted to live in a big city, so he moved to the District of Columbia to attend college. After four years in the comparatively expensive city, he realized that he wanted a place to live that was more affordable.
Waldholtz, 35, finally found a happy engagement in St. Louis, whose Midwestern affordability and opportunities to build a career in corporate compliance had the added bonus that his sister and brother-in-law lived there.
Now living 940 miles from Virginia Beach, Waldholtz is in a distinct minority among others who reached adulthood in the 21st century, residing half a continent away from where he grew up, according to a new Census Bureau study. of USA and Harvard. University researchers disclosed on Monday.
The study found that by age 26, more than two-thirds of young adults in the US lived in the same area where they grew up, 80% had moved less than 100 miles away, and 90% resided less than 500 miles away. Migration distances were shorter for black and Hispanic people compared to white and Asian young adults, and children of higher-income parents traveled farther from their hometowns than those of less affluent parents, the study found .
“For many people, the ‘economic opportunity radius’ is quite narrow,” the report says.
Young adulthood is a period of life when migration is highest in the US The study looked at the likelihood of people born primarily between 1984 and 1992 moving away from the transit zone in which they grew up . Transit zones are made up of one or more counties that reflect a local labor market, and there are more than 700 transit zones in the U.S. The range of birth in the study overlaps with the generation typically made referred to as millennials.
It turns out that the most common destinations for young adults were concentrated near where they grew up, said the study that used data from censuses, surveys and decennial taxes.
For example, three-quarters of the people who grew up in the Chicago area stayed there. Rockford was the top destination for people who moved to and stayed in Illinois, but only accounted for less than 1% of Chicago’s young adults. Los Angeles was the top destination for those who moved out of state, but that made up just 1.1% of Chicago’s young adults, according to an interactive data tool accompanying the study.
Where the young adults moved to varied by race.
Atlanta was the most popular destination for young black men who left their hometowns, followed by Houston and Washington. According to the study, young black adults who grew up in high-income households were several times more likely to move to these cities in a “New Great Migration” than those from low-income families.
For white adults who left their hometowns, New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Denver were the most populous destinations. Los Angeles and New York were the top two destinations for Asian and Hispanic young adults. San Antonio and Phoenix were also popular with Hispanics, while San Francisco also attracted young Asian adults.
Despite the region’s economic problems and the prospect of job opportunities elsewhere, young Appalachian adults were less likely to move far from their hometowns than those of similar income living elsewhere, according to the report.
Millennials’ reluctance to move far away is supported by recent studies showing a decline in mobility in the US for the general population. In the middle of the last century, about a fifth of US residents, not just young adults, moved each year. That number has been steadily declining since the 1950s, dropping from around 20% to 8.4% last year, due to an aging population, dual-income households that make pick-up and drop-off difficult, and more recently, the pandemic. , according to a recent Brookings report.
A Pew Research Center survey released last week showed that a quarter of American adults ages 25 to 34 resided in a multigenerational family home in 2021, up from 9% in 1971. The age groups in the Pew study and the Census Bureau study and Harvard University researchers overlap to some extent.
When there were wage gains in a local job market, most of the benefits went to residents who grew up within a 100-mile radius rather than people who had migrated to the area. The effect of wage increases on migration to an area was quite small, and immigrants would probably have moved there regardless of wage increases. Black young adults were less likely to move to a place due to pay increases compared to white and Hispanic millennials, according to the study released Monday.
Waldholtz, who is white, graduated in the recession in 2008 and returned to Virginia Beach to work. “Probably the worst time to look for a job,” she said. She eventually went to law school in Ohio and prioritized job opportunities when deciding where to live after graduation. three years later.
“We all need a job to pay our bills,” Waldholtz said. “That factor has to be the most important factor.”