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Denver Booms, ABQ Sucks

Denver Booms, ABQ Sucks

WSJ story on Denver's job growth: 'It isn’t the nearby ski slopes or urban hiking trails that are drawing thousands of recent college graduates here every year: It is the jobs'

milliennial man working on laptopMayor Richard Berry and his economic development people might want to read a story in today’s [Friday’s] Wall Street Journal about attracting the coveted millennials.

The Denver area is booming and attracting millennials by the tens of thousands. Since 2010, Denver has gained nearly 104,000 out-of-state residents, many of them millennials who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. In the past four years, 3,200 new companies have opened in, or relocated to, Denver, accoirding to the newspaper.


So what is attracting all of those millennials to Denver? According to the WSJ, one thing: jobs. To quote the story:

“This former cow town framed by the Rocky Mountains has become a magnet for millennials. But it isn’t the nearby ski slopes or urban hiking trails that are drawing thousands of recent college graduates here every year: It is the jobs.”

The story quoted a 39-year-old San Francisco transplant as saying, “You don’t move just because some place is cool. You’ve got to be able to earn a buck.”

Berry appears to believe that turning a 10-mile stretch of Central Avenue into a dedicated bus rapid transit route will be the magic wand that draws millennials to the Duke City. BRT appears to be a cornerstone of his economic development strategy.

The WSJ story offers some other insights that Berry’s crowd might want to ponder. The four metro areas with the largest domestic in-migration in the past four years were Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Phoenix — all seeing significant job growth.

And Albuquerque’s recent record for attracting people? Lousy.

Between 2010 and 2014, the area had a net outmigration of 49 people. That outmigration has accelerated in recent years as area residents fled to other areas [Denver likely was among them] in search of better jobs.

In the 12 months that ended July 1, 2014, 2,264 more people left the area than arrived, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A closer look at the figures shows that domestic outmigration from Albuquerque totaled 4,732 from 2010 to 2014.

That was offset by immigration of people from foreign countries, most likely students at the University of New Mexico.

The Albuquerque area’s economy has basically been stagnant for years. Despite some recent job gains, the area still hasn’t recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession.

— Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.


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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.
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Ashley Kurtz is a freelance theater critic.

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