Sunday, June 8, 2003

A Gen-Xodus

Their Top 10 Destinations

Why aren't more young adults coming to Hamilton County? Perhaps because they are going to these 10 counties - rated best in the nation for attracting people age 24 to 35.

1: Orlando (Orange County, Fla.)
Median age: 33.3
Gen X population: 16.6 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 322.8 percent
The draw: "There always seems to be something going on that a 20-something would want to be involved in - nightlife, concerts, amusement parks, etc.," says Amanda Newcomer, 23, a Pittsburgh native and 2002 graduate of Wittenberg University who is planning a move to Orlando next month. "For me, right now, life in Orlando just seems much more exciting."

Of note: Business creation, mostly in high tech, has exploded in Orange County. Nearly 19,000 new businesses were created last year, up 6.8 percent from 2001. More than 10,500 new jobs are expected to be created this year.

2: Las Vegas (Clark County, Nev.)
Median age: 34.4
Gen X population: 16.2 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 118.8 percent
The draw: "The weather," says John Kruthaupt, a Colerain Township native and a 1989 Xavier University grad who moved to Las Vegas in 1996 when he was 32. "Las Vegas also has that excitement factor, a 24-7 mentality. Three o'clock in the morning is just as good as 3 o'clock in the afternoon to do something. There are even golf courses with lights."

Of note: A mere 5.6 percent of premier office space goes unused in Clark County, compared to vacancy rates that stretch into double digits in Hamilton County. Some 630,000 square feet of new office space is either planned or under construction. Fortune, Entrepreneur and Inc. magazines consistently rank Las Vegas among the top cities to start and grow a business.

3: San Francisco (S.F. County, Calif.)
Median age: 36.5
Gen X population: 23.2 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 91.0 percent
The draw: "A great night life," says Sonia Shepherd, 26, a Troy native who moved to San Francisco four years ago after graduating from Ohio University. "Within four hours of San Francisco, you can find snow skiing, snowboarding, killer mountain biking, decent surfing and some of the world's best rock climbing. And, there are so many other people who want to do those activities in the San Francisco area."

Of note: San Franciscans are more innovative than the rest of the country - generating 37 patents per 1,000 residents from 1995 to 1999, compared with the U.S. rate of 24 per 1,000 residents.

4: Denver (Denver County, Colo.)
Median age: 33.1
Gen X population: 20.5 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 89.7 percent
The draw: "A lot of young people with progressive ideas," says Laura Gartner, 26, a Finneytown native who moved to Denver three years ago. Also: "The mountains are only an hour away. I love to ski and hike so I have the best of both worlds - a great city life combined with not-so-far-away nature."

Of note: Denver residents have higher after-tax income than the rest of the country, earning $45,207 per household. Perhaps that's why Denver is expected to have one of the fastest-growing labor forces in the country through 2006.

5: Charlotte (Mecklenberg County, N.C.)
Median age: 33.1
Gen X population: 18.7 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 68.7 percent
The draw: "You're three hours from the beach, two hours from the mountains," says Scott Thobe, 29, who moved to Charlotte in 1998 after growing up northwest of Dayton. "It's a growing city. I feel like I'm part of something new and exciting instead of something old and stagnant."

Of note: Practically everyone who wants a job in Charlotte has one, even after the recession. Unemployment was 4.1 percent in both 2001 and 2002, and 12,025 new jobs were created last year. The booming economy helps keep state and local taxes low.

6: Fort Lauderdale (Broward County, Fla.)
Median age: 37.8
Gen X population: 14.2 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 62.4 percent
The draw: "In all respects, there's a lot more to do here. It's a 24-hour city; people can be on any schedule here," says Tim Rodriguez, 29, who moved from Cincinnati to Broward County in May. "Cultural influences come from all over the place, and people are more receptive, more liberal."

Of note: In the past four years, 386 companies have relocated or expanded in the Fort Lauderdale area, creating or retaining more than 60,000 jobs. Property values throughout Broward are soaring, increasing the county's property tax roll 12.2 percent in fiscal 2003.

7: Raleigh (Wake County, N.C.)
Median age: 32.9
Gen X population: 18.1 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 61.9 percent
The draw: "People embrace diversity, people are very friendly," says Deric Shuster, 27, a 1997 UC graduate and Cleveland native who moved to Wake County in 2001. "The housing situation is such that you're getting a lot for your money, and you can still live close to work. There's so much going on around here, we feel like we're still living in (a big) city."

Of note: In a 12-month period, the area received an unprecedented double accolade of being named No. 1 Best Place to Work by Fortune magazine and No. 1 Best Place to Live by Money magazine.

8: Phoenix (Maricopa County, Ariz.)
Median age: 33.0
Gen X population: 15.9 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 57.8 percent
The draw: "A better career path," says Craig King, 29, a 1997 UC graduate in electrical engineering. He says semiconductor jobs in the Midwest are nonexistent. Phoenix "also offered a much more exciting demographic, as many other young professionals were making the same move. The restaurants, lounges and dance clubs are much more exciting, with new ones popping up every other month."

Of note: Maricopa County was one of the fastest growing counties in the United States in the 1990s. Phoenix has one of the strongest economies in the nation, exemplified by a widely diversified economic base and positive job growth in 47 of the past 50 years.

9: Portland, Ore. (Multnomah County)
Median age: 34.9
Gen X population: 17.5 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 48.7 percent
The draw: "Great shopping downtown and tons of quaint little restaurants with great food," says Emily Hawkins, 28, a White Oak native who moved at Portland in February. "Sandwiched between the mountains and the coast, there's just a lot of stuff to do - fishing, boating, camping, hiking, skiing, going to the beach."

Of note: Since 1998, nearly 2 million square feet of office space has been added in Portland's central district. Portland also is lauded for dynamic downtown housing, with more than 4,600 condos and apartments under construction.

10: Atlanta (Fulton County, Ga.)
Median age: 32.7
Gen X population: 18.6 percent
Gen X gain during the '90s: 47.5 percent
The draw: "More job opportunities," says Manjiri Joshi, 27, a 1997 Miami University graduate who plans a move to Atlanta. Also: "There is the social aspect. In Atlanta, there are a lot more people my age, and there is just more to do in a bigger city."

Of note: Atlanta created more than 671,000 new jobs in the past decade - more than any other metro area in the nation - and nearly 20 percent of the new jobs were technology-related. A public/private partnership is investing $150 million to help create and staff new bioscience research centers and institutes throughout the area.

Sources: Ohio Labor Market Information, the U.S. Census, Enquirer research

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