What makes a city attractive as a relocation destination?

As we have discussed on numerous occasions, New Mexico’s economy is struggling. That includes large numbers of people moving out of our state and our state’s largest city.

Some advocates for bus rapid transit believe that such a system will give Albuquerque the “cool factor” that makes at least New Mexico’s largest city attractive as a relocation destination for the young.

A Wall Street Journal article from Friday throws water on the concept that “amenities” (like transit or recreational activities) are what people look for when moving to a new place…and what is it people look for? No surprise: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

The article is full of some great quotes and charts.

“You don’t move just because some place is cool,” said Aaron Duke, a 39-year-old San Francisco transplant and CirrusMD employee. “You’ve also got to be able to earn a buck.”

Public improvements to lure millennials, such as building bike paths and revitalizing neighborhoods, can result in a nicer place to live, economists say, but for an economy to thrive, more fundamental investments are needed, including a well-connected airport, universities to train workers and a business base that attracts people from around the region, they note.

As the chart below taken directly from the WSJ piece shows, 9 of the top 10 cities to which Americans are flocking are in “Right to Work” states (only Denver is not). Also, none of the cities in the top 10 in growth are big on mass transit. Atlanta, the most transit-reliant, ranks 30th among US cities in transit usage. In fact, most of the fast-growing cities are, like Albuquerque, spread out auto-centric cities. Perhaps transit isn’t really high on the “cool-factor” list?

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