The educated elites of coastal blue cities tend to condescend to the supposedly racist and backward South. But in recent years, while San Francisco and New York continue to enjoy their status as progressive meccas, America’s college graduates have been sneaking out the back door. Demographer Wendell Cox ranks the top ten U.S. cities that are gaining college graduates most rapidly: New Orleans, LA; San Antonio, TX; Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; Louisville, KY; Houston, TX; Denver, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; Jacksonville, FL; and Raleigh, NC, in that order.Conspicuously absent from that list are SF, NY, LA, DC and Boston. Joel Kotkin has more:
What is happening in New Orleans, where I have worked as a consultant, is unique, but it also follows a broader pattern that we see in other areas. Unable to afford to settle long-term in traditional “brain centers,” educated people are increasingly looking for places that have strong economies but also many of the cultural and natural amenities associated with the traditional meccas for the educated. With housing prices that are half to a third of Silicon Valley or San Francisco, New Orleans offered educated workers, particularly younger ones, many of the things they look for, but at an affordable cost.“For $65,000 a year in San Francisco you get a shared apartment and no car,” says long-time New Orleans tech entrepreneur Chris Reed. ”Here, you get great restaurants and clubs, and you get to have a car and your own nice apartment. It’s a no-brainer.”
This isn’t a big surprise. America’s bastions of blue model governance tend not to provide a high quality of life for people just starting out. Decades of brilliantly crafted progressive policy have helped make the cost of renting an apartment, becoming a homeowner and starting a family simply untenable for recent graduates and people in the early stages of their career. Young people are figuring out not only that a much higher quality of life exists elsewhere, but that the coastal metropolises don’t have a monopoly on culture and fun.