Recently released data indicates the City of Birmingham ranks No. 7 among the 150 largest U.S. cities for growth in young professionals over the last five years.
Between 2010 and 2015, Birmingham’s population between the ages 25 to 34 that have at least a bachelor’s degree grew by 56 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released in September.
YPs are now Birmingham’s fastest growing demographic and comprise a larger percentage of the Magic City’s population than five years ago – 3.8 percent of the city’s population in 2010 were YPs compared to 5.8 percent in 2015, which puts Birmingham 64th among the 150 largest cities in the U.S. for population percentage, up 40 spots from 2010.
Birmingham’s YP growth is three times faster than the national percentage increase (about 18 percent) during that period and reinforces the surge in revitalization in downtown Birmingham and surrounding neighborhoods like Avondale, Woodlawn and Lakeview.
In 2010 Birmingham’s YP population totaled 7,997 and increased to nearly 12,500 in 2015, an increase of nearly 4,500 people. Birmingham ranked behind Salt Lake City, Utah, and ahead of Vancouver, Wash., for percentage population increase in that demographic during that five-year period. Columbus, Ga., experienced the largest growth in YP population with a 146 percent increase between 2010 and 2015.
The seven-county Birmingham region saw modest YP growth – those between 25 and 34 with at least a bachelor’s degree rose 3 percent between 2010 and 2015. The City of Birmingham captured 38 percent of Alabama’s young professional population increase during the five year period.
Because 2010 is the beginning of a Census year, the recently released 2015 data provided a perfect benchmark to look at the five-year effects of the City of Birmingham’s growth, particularly in downtown. A growing YP population is an essential component of the urban revitalization trend impacting many major U.S. cities and Birmingham is no exception to this national trend. YPs have a tremendous economic and community development impact on downtowns because they are more likely than previous generations to choose urban core neighborhoods to live, work and play.
In recent years, Birmingham’s core has witnessed a massive influx of investment, from historic preservation to construction of new multi-family developments. Currently, there are more than 2,000 apartment units either under construction or recently completed in Birmingham’s urban core – an area identified as downtown and the immediate adjacent neighborhoods. Ten large-scale historic properties, with a combined total of more than 1 million square feet, are either under renovation or were completed this year. Companies, too, are expanding in the city center. Since 2014 at least six companies have added more than 100 employees each.
The American Communities Survey also shows Birmingham YPs are opting for a different mode of transportation to and from work within the city of Birmingham. Between 2010 and 2015, Birmingham saw a 224 percent increase in people biking to work, compared to a 21 percent increase for the U.S. as a whole during that same time. People walking to work has increased 46 percent compared to an 8 percent increase for the U.S., and public transportation usage has increased 33 percent in the City of Birmingham compared to a 14 percent increase across the country.