New Studies Reveal Key Information About Millennials For Economic Development and Urban Planning

Last month, two public opinion polls were released that revealed some interesting details about the Millennial generation, suggesting that the key characteristics of the places they’re moving to include availability of public transportation, walkability, good schools, and parks. 

The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, which is the component of Smart Growth America that primarily focuses on transportation as land usage’s key element, released a survey that found that Millennials are looking to move to cities with efficient public transportation systems. According to the survey, 66% of Millennials said that access to high quality public transportation was one of their three most important criteria when considering places to live. 

“This survey reinforces that cities that don’t invest in effective transportation options stand to lose out in the long-run,” said The Rockefeller Foundation’s managing director Michael Myers. “As we move from a car-centric model of mobility to a nation that embraces more equitable and sustainable transportation options, Millennials are leading the way.”

The American Planning Association released the second survey, which surveyed 1,040 Americans–half Millennials and half Baby Boomers–and found that both generations generally desired the same things from the places they’d like to live, like technology-enabled cities, walkable communities, and residential areas that allowed citizens to “age in place.”

According to the poll, 68% of the respondents believed the national economy is flawed fundamentally. They also believed that the road to economic recovery began with building local communities by implementing the basic elements that make a place desirable to live in, and not through more recruiting companies. 

While these surveys can certainly help city organizers develop their local economies, there’s a key issue that’s not being addressed: the enormous economic burden that Millennials are under thanks to increasingly expensive student loans. According to non-profit organization American Student Assistance, there’s somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debts today in the United States. About $864 billion is owed to the federal government, while another approximate $150 billion is owed to private lenders. Of the nearly $1 trillion owed, about $85 billion of it is past due. 

It’s almost impossible for anyone with a significant amount of debt to make their loan payments while also paying for necessities. Essentially, this crippling amount of student loan has shackled many Millennials, making it tough for them to relocate, though they’d like to. 

That being said, incorporating such characteristics into an area will certainly help draw Millennials in as they become the key demographic in the workforce.

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