Beyond the towering medical campus buildings, the state investment dollars, and the fresh infrastructure in downtown Buffalo, the most positive indicator of the city’s resurgence may lie in the demographic data.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, released early this year, shows the City of Buffalo’s growth in 25- to 34-year-olds outpaces the national average, placing it 22nd at 13.4 percent growth. That outpaces 58 of the 79 cities identified in the study.
The data, first reported by Buffalo Business First, is also encouraging in the 25- to 34-year-old, college-educated demographic. The city’s population growth in that category is up 20.8 percent.
In total, Buffalo’s young adult population, according to the census, has grown to 43,407, up from approximately 38,000 five years ago. The average growth of young adults in the nation’s 80 cities is 10 percent; the data shows Buffalo outpaced the average.
These findings are similar to data commissioned by Invest Buffalo Niagara, a nonprofit, privately funded economic development organization. Its 2017 Labor Market Assessment report, compiled by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute and released last February, shows young adults in the Buffalo-Niagara region are more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than the national average. And the proportion of age 25- to 34-year-old workers in Buffalo-Niagara nearly matches the national average.
Looking at the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Statistical Area, the region’s percentage of young adults making up its workforce ranks similarly to cities like Charlotte, N.C., and Pittsburgh, Pa., at 21.3 percent.
Invest Buffalo Niagara’s findings show an overall labor supply increase of 2 percent since 2009. The unemployed population declined by over 25,000.
The Invest Buffalo Niagara report is based on the Buffalo-Niagara region’s eight counties, including Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Allegany to the east, spanning to Chautauqua County along the Pennsylvania border.
“I like to say that success breeds success,” Invest Buffalo Niagara research manager Matthew Hubacher said. “One positive development in the region attracts people to job opportunities. That just brings more success and more investment. It feeds off itself.”
Hubacher added that recent project wins, bringing businesses and investment to the region, drives growth in the millennial cohort. “You can feel a change in the region, both in the number and size of companies able to expand their business here in Western New York,” he said.
Read more about why Sentient Science finds Buffalo the perfect place to grow a business here
Hubacher pointed to Sentient Science as an example. Located on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, company president and CEO Ward Thomas recently told UpstartNY.org the University at Buffalo is an “incredible hiring resource.” He added that talent from outside of Western New York is lured here by the affordable housing and higher quality of life. Data increasingly has shown that young adults place quality of life and happiness in the workplace ahead of high wages, for example.
And with new breweries, shopping, restaurants, and museums expanding rapidly within the city, young adults are drawn here. The data from Invest Buffalo Niagara and the U.S. Census Bureau is beginning to show that.
Hubacher added that with 27,000 graduates from the 21 colleges and universities in the eight counties, it’s important to continue to match those graduates with companies locally looking to fill positions.