Ohio Continues to Attract Millennial Workforce

Employees at Hyland Software's offices in Cleveland, Ohio

As of 2015, millennials became the largest share of the American workforce. As this generation, those born between 1982 and 2000, continues to impact the national workforce, cities and businesses across the country are working to attract this creative, independent and diverse group.

A recent study by American University’s Kogod School of Business found that the three driving factors millennials use to decide where to live are:

  • availability of jobs
  • salary levels
  • cost of housing

Evidence of this can be seen in a recent survey conducted by the Bay Area Council which found that 40 percent of respondents planned to leave Silicon Valley within the next few years, and 55 percent of those individuals reported cost of living as their top reason. This information bodes well for Ohio, as the state consistently ranks high in affordability as well as job availability and salary levels. But cities throughout Ohio are taking additional steps to attract millennial talent. They’re providing the market with more affordable housing. They’re developing more appealing downtowns filled with restaurants, arts and social activity. And they’re increasing the ease of mobility for this generation of “on-the-goers.”  

In recent years, these efforts have paid off. Between 2010 and 2016 over 86,000 millennials moved or returned to Ohio. Drawn by the state’s low cost of living, increased job opportunities and youthful buzz emitted by emerging downtowns, millennials have become the largest portion of Ohio’s population.

Ohio companies are also embracing the millennial mindset in an effort to attract this vital workforce segment. The Cleveland software company Hyland, for example, offers employee perks that millennials value, such as flex days, a wellness center, on-site daycare, healthy food options and tuition reimbursement. These types of benefits help explain why 44 percent of the company’s workers are millennials. They also helped Hyland rank 48th on Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2016 and 75th on Fortune’s 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

In a recent Forbes article, 25-year old Michael Markesbery says he chose to launch his company, Oros Apparel, in Ohio because of the state’s startup environment, business climate and low cost of living.

“I might be biased,” Markesbery said. “But Ohio is the best place to launch a start-up in America.”

Rich Langdale, co-founder at NCT Ventures, Oros’ lead investor, says while lower living costs are a great perk, Ohio offers so much more.

“Ohio has great cities to live with exciting, vibrant, diverse cultures,” he explained in the Forbes article. “We also have smart, hard-working people with a loyal work ethic, which is harder to find on the coasts.”

Clearly, Ohio has the assets that millennials are seeking: affordability, job opportunities, vibrant communities, entrepreneurial support and a top-notch quality of life. As more and more people discover the benefits of living in Ohio, business leaders can expect to see continued millennial growth.

Ohio Millennials by the Numbers

  • Cleveland
    • Millennials equate to 24 percent of total population, 63 percent of downtown population
    • 76 percent growth in millennial population from 2002-2012
    • 8th in the nation for college-educated millennial growth (2011-2013)The Fifth Migration: A Study of Cleveland Millennials
  • Columbus
    • Millennials equate to 26 percent of population
    • Ranked 3rd on list of “Best Cities for Millennials” – Time Magazine (2015)
    • Ranked 1st in the Midwest for visitor satisfaction – J.D. Power (2016)
  • Cincinnati
    • Millennials equate to 27 percent of total population
    • Ranked 10th on the list of “Best Cities for New College Grads” – Forbes (2015)
    • Ranked 4th on the list of “Best Cities for 20-Somethings” - Move.org (2016)