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Weekend edition January 20, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Millennials are leaving Knoxville

A SmartAsset report shows Knoxville is among the top 20 cities millennials are leaving. Let's explore why.

Home and rent prices are up, more retail workers and nurses are needed, affordable childcare is hard to find, and the millennials are leaving.

Those are some of the takeaways from the latest Economic Conditions Outlook (ECO) produced by the Knoxville Chamber and financed by First Horizon Bank.

In the housing market, sales have gone down in Knoxville and up in Knox County. In both locations, the median home price is notably higher than this time last year. Renters continue to see monthly prices shoot up, as effective rents were up almost 13 percent year-over-year in November 2022.

The labor shortage still impacting most of the country is hitting the Knoxville area’s retail and healthcare sectors the hardest. The top three occupations hiring based on job postings in November 2022 are retail salespeople, registered nurses, and first-line supervisors of retail workers, in that order. According to a December 2022 survey, businesses in the manufacturing, service, and retail sectors all report that the level of general business activity and company outlooks are reported as “worsened.” The service industry is split between “worsened” and “same.”

The lack of affordable childcare costs Tennessee $2.6 billion per year and costs Knox County an estimated $108 million annually. That’s according to a report by Tennesseeans for Quality Early Education. The report goes on to say yearly childcare costs can range from $6,000 to $11,000, and parents in Knox County lose $69 million annually due to disruptions in work schedules or job losses caused by the lack of child care.

Could a combination of all these factors be a reason why millennials are leaving Knoxville? A SmartAsset report ranks Knoxville 16th in its list of top 20 cities where millennials are leaving. The report used census data from 2021 to analyze how many people age 25 to 39 moved into or out of a certain city or state. The Knoxville Chamber points out that the Knoxville area does not have enough people in the prime working age range of 25-54 to meet the current job demand. They said is imperative that we attract and retain young talent to meet our region’s workforce needs.

For more takeaways and detailed data from the latest ECO report, you can read the whole report here.

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