Still Clueless on Millennials


It can be downright mystifying how some people attained the status of “expert.”

Maureen McAvey, the Bucksbaum Family Chair for Retail at the Urban Land Institute, was in Albuquerque yesterday for an event sponsored by her organization and NAIOP-New Mexico. She noted the Duke City’s dearth of Millennials: “The young people you have are not staying here. Jobs are always a challenge, but in lifestyle, you should be able to hit this one out of the park. I’d want to know why these young people aren’t staying here when you have a lot of assets.” After all, in other places, “festivals and music” attract young adults, who want “to be where it’s cool.”

Earth to Maureen: It’s tough to enjoy concerts, growers markets, art-house films, and pub crawls when you don’t have any money. In Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico, unemployment is rising. (Only West Virginia has a worse jobless rate than the Land of Enchantment.)

Not surprisingly, the places where Millennials are flocking — e.g., Houston, Salt Lake City, Orlando, Nashville, Denver, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and Las Vegas — tend to have robust economies. As Aaron Duke, a San Francisco-to-Denver transplant, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year: “You don’t move just because some place is cool. You’ve also got to be able to earn a buck.”

To attract Millennials, Albuquerque needs what the vice president would call “a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.” But with carnage on the highways, rampant vagrancy downtown, a new tax hike, a burdensome minimum wage, and planning-and-zoning procedures that drive developers away, don’t expect employment growth to pick up anytime soon.