Sun Belt Metros Lead for Growth in Young Adults

  in   Demographics

Though 20- to 34-year-olds still make up about one-fifth of the U.S. population, growth in this key renter demographic slowed recently to its lowest rate in several years.

This young adult cohort grew just 0.2% in 2019, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. That rate was down notably from the 1.7% increase in 2011, just after the Great Recession. Despite the slowing growth, however, this key renter cohort has maintained its market share, comprising just under 21% of the total U.S. population in 2019. At nearly 68 million people, this segment is also by far the largest of the nation’s working age population.

The slowdown in growth among young adults is much steeper than the slowdown in the nation’s overall population. On an annual basis, the rate of overall population growth slowed to 0.5% in 2019, down from 0.7% from 2011 through 2016.

Overall, the U.S. population grew by 18.9 million people, or 6.1%, from July 2010 to July 2019. The 20- to 30-year-old cohort added nearly 4.7 million people, or 7.4%, over that time.

Because 20- to 34-year-olds have such influence on the housing market, this population is worth watching in both homeownership rates and in the for-rent space.

Despite the slowdown in growth among young adults nationally, several metropolitan areas are still seeing significant growth in this cohort.

Among the nation’s top 50 apartment markets that gained the most 20- to 34-year-olds in the past year, South region markets dominated. Markets in the South took seven of the top 10 spots for markets that added the most 20- to 34-year-olds in 2019 and placed in five of the top 10 spots for percentage growth in that age bracket.

Charlotte recorded the largest percentage increase in 20- to 34-year-olds from 2018 to 2019, with a 3% increase in that age cohort. Indianapolis came in a close second, as its key renter demographic grew 2.6% from 2018 to 2019. Rounding out the markets that have all seen growth of 2% or more in the 20 to 34 age cohort were Austin (2.2%), Phoenix (2.2%) and Denver (2%).

By total new residents, Phoenix gained the most 20- to 34-year-olds, as that cohort population increased by nearly 23,000 people from 2018 to 2019. Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte also added roughly 15,000 or more new residents in this age group.

While half of the top 50 markets saw an increase in 20- to 34-year-olds, markets such as Virginia Beach, Miami, Baltimore and Washington, DC lost roughly 1.5% to 3% of residents in this age demographic. The deepest loss was in Virginia Beach, with the key renter cohort in that market shrinking 3.1% from 2018 to 2019, with a loss of nearly 12,000 such residents.