North Dakota ranked best state for young adults
Study reveals economic and lifestyle advantages of North Dakota
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09
Young people may not envision North Dakota as the iconic Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, but a recent study ranked the state as number one in America for best states for young adults.
The study “10 States Where Youth Rules,” conducted by MoneyRates.com, compared nine economic and lifestyle factors to determine which states offer the best conditions for young adults.
The criteria used to determine the rankings were:
Employment opportunities for young people – based on the unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Rental availability – based on rental vacancy rates, reported by the Census Bureau.
Housing affordability – based on median rental costs, reported by the Census Bureau.
Insurance cost for young drivers – based on figures from Insure.com.
College cost – based on public and private average four-year annual college tuition cost, reported by The College Board.
Youth-oriented retail availability – based on number of Abercrombie & Fitch stores per million residents.
Nightlife – based on number of top-rated bars (by Esquire Magazine) in the state per million residents.
Healthfulness – based on number of fitness clubs in the state per capita.
Youthfulness of the state – based on the state’s population percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds, reported by the Census Bureau.
Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates, said North Dakota’s strong economic conditions were a large factor in earning the number one ranking.
“The employment situation in North Dakota is much stronger than in most other states,” he said.
North Dakota ranked first for youth employment opportunities. The strong employment environment has been largely influenced by the growing oil production in the state, Barrington said.
“Nationally, the average of all other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the unemployment rate among people age 18 to 24 is close to 14 percent,” he said. “In North Dakota, it’s 3.3 percent. That’s a huge difference for people who are looking for a job.”
However, the growing oil production has also affected the state’s rental availability.
“As a result of attracting such an influx of workers, North Dakota has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country,” Barrington said.
North Dakota ranked 35 in the nation for rental availability, but ranked 3 in housing affordability. Based on the principle of supply and demand, the state’s rental costs will likely increase.
Other economic advantages of North Dakota are its fifth lowest auto insurance costs and affordable college.
College costs in North Dakota are the fifth lowest in the nation. The average cost of four-year public and private university tuition in North Dakota is $10,774 per year. The national average is nearly $17,000 per year.
“This is a big deal because outstanding student loan debt nationally is at an all-time high,” Barrington said. “Going somewhere where education remains affordable is really a critical issue.”
North Dakota also received above average marks in many of the lifestyle categories.
“North Dakota is not the entertainment capital of the world, but people have different priorities in terms of lifestyle,” Barrington said.
Despite tying for last place for youth-oriented retail, the state ranked 16th for nightlife and sixth for healthfulness categories.
“One thing that generally attracts young people is other young people,” Barrington said. “North Dakota has the second highest percentage of its population in the 18 to 24-year-old age group.”
Over 12 percent of the state’s population is between 18 and 24 years old, compared to a national average of 10 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
North Dakota’s robust economy deserves consideration from young adults and recent graduates who are searching for a place to start out. Because of its high number of job opportunities and affordable college costs, North Dakota is a “great place for a young graduate to acquire some experience and start building some savings,” Barrington said.
The top ten states for young adults revealed from the study were (in order of rank) North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, Utah and New Hampshire.
This study shows that people who are having a hard time finding a job should not assume that things are equally difficult in other states, Barrington explained. Those people should weigh the economic conditions of other states when looking for a place to move, he said.
Conversely, people living in a state where the economic conditions are good do not always realize how well off they are compared to the rest of the nation.
“The study should put in perspective what North Dakota’s strengths are,” Barrington said. “People who live in a place are always well aware of its weaknesses; they don’t always appreciate the strengths, and maybe this comparison with other states can help highlight some of those strengths.”