RALEIGH – Though a new analysis ranks North Carolina near the middle of states that are attracting interest from millennials, an economist based in the nation’s ninth largest state in terms of population isn’t concerned.

While some may view a ranking of 28th in the nation for millennial living as a concern for a state with tens of thousands of job openings, Dr. Michael Walden, an economist and a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University told WRAL TechWire that this ranking won’t affect the state’s reputation—at all.

The WalletHub analysis measured 34 different indicators across four categories, in order to rank each U.S. state and the District of Columbia.  North Carolina ranked 28th.

Among the measures where North Carolina stood out against other U.S. states were:

  • The number of millennials in the state who visited a primary care doctor for a routine medical checkup in the prior 12 months
  • The measured cost of living

On the other factors, North Carolina’s ranking was not as strong.  The state ranked 17th overall when it came to the category of affordability, but 33d overall when it came to a category measuring quality of life metrics.

But that’s not the whole picture of what’s happening in the state, and why people, including millennials, are moving to North Carolina, Walden told WRAL TechWire.

“While there are certainly societal factors North Carolina can improve upon, the fact that companies are moving here—including those with high-paying jobs,” said Walden, “tells me the economic opportunities and living conditions in North Carolina are attractive to firms and people outside the state.”

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And compared to other Southeastern and Sun Belt states, North Carolina actually outperforms, according to the WalletHub analysis.

Many neighboring states ranked below North Carolina.  Tennessee ranked 30th, while Georgia ranked 38th and South Carolina ranked 45th.

Virginia, however, ranked 9th.

Texas ranked 22nd and Arizona ranked 25th, while Florida ranked 37th.

Walden, who is also a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire, noted two concerns with the analysis.

“What factors are included, and how are the factors measured,” Walden said.  As the analysis returned high rankings for the Northeast and Midwest, whereas the Southeastern and Sun Belt states ranked in the middle or near the bottom, Walden called this “odd.”

That’s because many of the states in the middle and at the bottom of the rankings analysis have been among the fastest-growing states in the nation while Midwestern and Northern states have slower growth rates, including among millennials, he noted.  And in states, like North Carolina, that are adding jobs or provide lower cost of living to workers who can now work remotely, are also attracting millennials.

“People are “voting with their feet” by moving to opportunities in states in the South and Southwest,” said Walden.  “Reality seems to be the opposite of WalletHub’s methodology and findings.”

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