Someone once told me that nothing in Texas was rarer than a native Austinite.
That's not exactly true, but recent numbers bear out the Texas capital's status as a migrant mecca — and Houston isn't far behind.
William H. Frey of the Brookings Institute parsed the 2010 census data and found that though Austin had had a steady influx of college-educated young adults (age 25-34) throughout the decade (it had the second-highest rate from 2005-2007 behind Riverside, Calif.) unlike other popular boom cities Austin was the only major metropolitan area whose migration rate for this demographic actually increased in the recession, from 2.31 per 100 residents to 2.81.
Austin is now the top destination for educated young adults — a rarity Frey dubs a 'brain gain' city along with other research and tech hubs like Raleigh, N.C. and Portland.
Among all young adults Houston has remained a steadily popular destination in both the boom and bust years, coming in fourth among cities consistently with a steady average of just under 11,000 new residents per year. In the boom years, Austin wasn't among the top five despite its appeal for intellectuals, but as total migration has dropped with the economy, Austin's total young adult migration has increased to an average of 14,000 per year, putting it again in the top spot.
The solid Texas cities of Austin, Houston and Dallas (No. 2) now dominate the cities attracting new residents, along with Denver (No. 3) and Seattle (No. 5). Boom-era cities like Phoenix and Riverside, which was No. 1 from 2005-2007 with an astounding 24,000 young adults relocating in per year, still attract residents but at much lower rates, likely due to the economic chaos surrounding the burst real estate bubble.
Frey is concerned that the overall lower numbers of young adults, particularly highly educated young adults, moving to pursue opportunity could create a "lost generation" if the numbers (and the economy, which is causing the slump) don't pick up soon.
Luckily it looks like Texas won't have any such problem.