In Brookings’ 2018 whitepaper “Metro Millennials: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future,” the authors looked at nationwide trends involving the Millennial generation, defined as those born between 1981 and 1997. On a macro level, the study found that this generation has more racial/ethnic diversity, higher college degree attainment, and lower marriage rates than Baby Boomers and Generation X, the prior two generations tracked. These differences make the task of communities and companies attracting and retaining young talent different than what it has been in years past.
Capital Region Millennial Population
In addition, the piece took a micro-look at Millennial population, ranking metro areas based on Millennials as a percentage of the overall population, and a further breakdown of Millennial population by race/ethnicity. Baton Rouge received high rankings in both, grading out with the tenth largest share of Millennials among the overall population (26.1 percent), as well as tenth in terms of African Americans as a percentage of overall Millennial population (37.7 percent).
Among the rest of the top-10 for Millennials as a share of the overall population, most share some common traits with Baton Rouge – they’re home to their state’s capital, a large public university, or both. It’s a list that includes cities like Austin (27.2 percent), Madison (26.8 percent), and Colorado Springs (26.4 percent). Cities with the lowest share of Millennials tend to be known for large retirement communities, or former manufacturing hubs that have not recovered post-recession: seven of the top-15 are in Florida, and the rest include places like Youngstown (19.9 percent) and Scranton (21.2 percent).
Why Does it Matter?
A high share of Millennials has a number of potential advantages for the Baton Rouge Area, but two that stand out are the opportunity for employers to retain rather than just recruit top talent and the potential of growth and revitalization of Baton Rouge’s urban core.
Attraction and retention of top talent is key for the business community, as data shows that workforce is a top area of concern for companies both locally and nationally. As a community with a large share of young workers – as well as two land-grant universities and a number of well-regarded community and technical colleges – the Capital Region produces a large number of qualified candidates for high-skill positions. The metro areas mentioned above as having a low percentage of Millennials don’t have that advantage, and have to look outward and bring talent in; Baton Rouge is at an advantage in that part of its workforce can be filled by convincing students to stay in the region they’re already in. The question then becomes “How?”
Another finding of the study is that Millennials typically prefer to live in urban areas that are diverse. This makes sense because of the lower family and marriage rates for younger Millennials, as well as the overall racial and ethnic diversity of the generation. These tendencies make it crucial for the Capital Region to continue to focus on urban infill and offering a variety of housing options for young residents. Infill and urban redevelopment also tend to relieve suburban commuter traffic, leading to a higher quality of life for residents overall, and a higher likelihood of attracting and retaining young talent in the region.
As Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence, Andrew focuses on research and analysis for BRAC’s business development and economic competitiveness teams, providing economic, demographic, and fiscal research to support business expansion and relocation efforts in the Baton Rouge Area and analysis of education, workforce, tax, and other economic and public policy issues.