Study: Metro Denver’s thriving economy and high quality of life make it a magnet for Millennials

October 6, 2016

DENVER – October 6, 2016 – Just as Metro Denver was once a top location for baby boomers, the region is now a magnet for Millennials, according to a new study—The Millennial Influence in Metro Denver (link to infographic)—released today by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. (Metro Denver EDC).

The Millennial population, which includes people born between 1981 and 1997, is Metro Denver’s largest generational group. The study, by Development Research Partners, shows that 24 percent of the region’s population base—or nearly 891,500 people—now consists of Millennials. The analysis factored in data for the four metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) that make up the region: Boulder MSA, Fort Collins MSA, Greeley MSA, and the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA, as well as separate analysis for the entire state.

“In the past five years, we’ve had very strong population growth in Metro Denver. Millennials choosing to move here has been key to that increase,” said Patty Silverstein, president of Development Research Partners and chief economist for the Metro Denver EDC.

While Generation X (821,500 population) and Baby Boomers (813,200 population) dominate Metro Denver’s current labor market, Silverstein says Millennials will influence and shape the region’s future workforce.

“As Baby Boomers continue to retire, it is vital that our region has workers ready to replace them. Our progress in attracting Millennials is the true indicator of Metro Denver’s future economic success,” explained Silverstein.

Key findings include:

  • In 2014, nearly 52 percent of total in-migration to Metro Denver was Millennials, the largest of all generational groups.
  • 32.5 percent of the 2 million jobs in Metro Denver are held by Millennials.
  • Nearly 62 percent of the region’s Millennials work in four sectors: leisure & hospitality, professional & business services, wholesale & retail trade, and government.
  • The number of Millennial entrepreneurs in Metro Denver increased from 2 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2013.

Since talent attraction is a key factor in nearly every business location decision, competition among U.S. regions to attract Millennials is heating up. Silverstein and her researchers evaluated Metro Denver’s position in key Millennial data points compared to its top-eight national economic development competitors: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, and Seattle.

“We found that Metro Denver compared very favorably and that our Millennial migration was among the highest,” said Silverstein. “However, our region has tough competition overall and has a fight on its hands in the ongoing battle to attract Millennials.”

Millennials are a key aspect of the region’s economic development strategy, according to Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC.

“We Baby Boomers often joke that Millennials are just taking up space on their parents’ couches, but they truly do bring fresh ideas and perspective to the workplace. Regions that aggressively attract talent will be the ones that lead the race for jobs in the future.”

The study also highlights the changing workplace trends marshalled by the Millennial workforce including a shift toward coworking spaces and workplaces with greater flexibility, added amenities, and scalability.

One especially important trend is the way Millennials get to work—which is increasingly motivated by environmental and health concerns—according to the study. Silverstein cites how Millennials’ increased commuting choices of mass transit and walking are shaping new development in the region.

“We’re noticing new commercial development patterns and philosophies at play in Metro Denver as a direct result of the Millennial influence. Notably, our region is experiencing a wonderful alignment of our workforce needs and new transit options through FasTracks,” explained Silverstein.

Learn More:
» The Millennial Influence in Metro Denverfull report | infographic

About the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation
The Metro Denver EDC is the nation’s first regional economic development organization. An affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Denver EDC focuses on six areas to expand the economy in the nine-county region: national marketing, new and existing business, mobility, DEN/international air travel, tax reform, and special opportunities. The organization also leads four industry-focused affiliates: the Colorado Energy Coalition, the Colorado Investment Services Coalition, the Colorado Space Coalition, and the Metro Denver Aviation Coalition. For more information, see or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Media contactJanet Fritz - Senior Director, Marketing and Technology, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., 303.475.4194