Young adults move out of state, census shows

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 6:42 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Their lives on hold for years, young adults now are making big moves in the fledgling economic recovery — leaving college towns or parents' homes and heading out of state at the highest rate since the height of the housing boom.

New census data released Thursday offer a detailed look at migration as mobility begins to revive after a low last year.

The latest numbers show that young adults 25-29 are the primary out-of-state movers. They had the biggest gain in 13 years as they struck out on their own to test the job market in urban, high-tech meccas — Washington; Denver; Portland; Seattle; and Austin.

In contrast, groups that showed some of the most movement in the housing boom of the last decade (2000-10) — working professionals, families and would-be retirees — are mostly locked in place, their out-of-state migration levels stuck at near lows because of underwater mortgages and dwindling retirement portfolios.

The demographic shifts are once again rejiggering the housing map.

Out are the super-sized McMansions in far-flung suburbs, which helped drive rapid metro-area growth in the early to middle part of the last decade in places such as Phoenix and Las Vegas. In are new, 300 square-foot “micro” apartments under consideration for development in dense cities such as New York, which are seeking to attract young singles.

“Footloose young singles are forming the leading edge of the coming migration wave,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer.

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