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Gen Zers are choosing Texas for their new home more than any other state

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From oversized hats to clear blue skies rising above gigantic pristine ranches, everything is bigger in Texas. Even the state’s young workforce is expanding.

Texas is reeling in more Gen Z movers than any other state, according to an analysis by Seattle-based real estate firm Zillow Group Inc. Zillow pulled its data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey.

Texas netted over 76,000 Gen Z movers, beating out California and Florida, which placed second and third, respectively, with over 40,000 each. The net takes into account those moving into the state minus those moving out.

Today, Gen Z generally refers to those aged 12 to 27, according to Pew Research Center’s definitions of the generations.

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“Gen Z movers are likely drawn to the job opportunities in these states, despite the higher costs of housing,” said Edward Berchick, Zillow principal population scientist. “They may also be in a stage of life where they’re willing and able to be flexible in their standards of living while starting their careers.”

With Texas attracting so much young talent, it puts the state firmly ahead of others competing to build a workforce for the future, said Mallory Vachon, senior economist at LaborIQ by ThinkWhy, a Dallas firm that tracks jobs and pay.

“An increase in the young, working-age population illustrates the strength of the state’s economy and job market,” Vachon said. “Workers of all ages, but especially young workers, are moving to Texas for the opportunity. And if these young workers remain in the state, they’re part of the talent pool for local businesses for many years to come.”

What makes Texas attractive?

It all comes down to jobs.

Despite the state’s employment growth expected to slow down to 2%, Texas had an enormous 31-month streak of job growth and employment opportunities are still plentiful throughout the state.

Texas has also added tens of thousands of jobs in retail, health care, the service industry and more, according to another analysis from Deputy, a global scheduling software platform. The company’s study predicts that Texas will soon overtake California as the biggest retail market in the country.

“The key to net in-migration from other states is the opportunities Texas offers,” said Ray Perryman, CEO of the Waco-based research firm, The Perryman Group. “The state has been adding jobs at a strong pace, with no end over an extended period, and has received widespread attention for corporate locations, high-growth sectors, and other economic advantages.”

Housing is another issue where Texas has states like Florida and California beat.

The cost of living in California is the third-worst in the nation while Florida’s cost of living sits at 29th, according to a study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Though Texas isn’t cheap, the state’s cost of living is below average, placing 19th on the list.

“It’s easier to afford a house and decent lifestyle in Texas than in many parts of the country, particularly those that are prosperous economically,” Perryman said. “The reasons that make Texas a good place to relocate also make it a good place to stay. The options for financial success and building wealth are aided not only by opportunities, but also by a lower tax structure including the lack of an income tax.”

It also helps that Texas has a knack for talent retention. People born in Texas are the least likely in the nation to move out, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

It’s a unique trait that will eventually help Texas’ population boom and potentially gain up to 5 million people by the state’s bicentennial anniversary in 2036, according to Dallas-based data research group Texas 2036.

What does this mean for Texas?

States like Michigan, which are losing Gen Z individuals faster than they’re gaining them, aren’t as fortunate as Texas. With Gen Z expected to become a bigger labor force than baby boomers this year, the need for a young workforce powered by Gen Z will be critical for any state’s growth.

Texas’ prosperity for young people is especially a big win for the state’s biggest cities since that’s where much of the talent is heading, Vachon said.

“Texas has four of the 10 largest cities in the country in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, and it’s generally more affordable. For young people, early in their careers, this is strong selling point,” she said. “In the long run, attracting younger workers is the better strategy for growth. Especially if those workers stay, start families, and continue contributing to local economies.”

But it does mean the state’s political leaders in Austin need to invest in the most important needs to stay at the top and prepare for the population boom that’s already begun to take place, Perryman said.

“I think Texas should keep on doing the things that are working, like supporting industry growth and expansion,” he said. “It is, however, crucial to invest in the infrastructure needed to support a growing population and its quality of life, from education to highways to broadband to parks and to avoid social legislation that might discourage some groups.”

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