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July 29 2019

College Grads Should Skip Big City Costs and Find Economic Success in Small Towns

by Betsy Pearson

With fall around the corner, some new college grads will be preparing for new jobs rather than a new school year. With life and its possibilities before them, where will the next generation decide to settle down? Trends seem to point young, college-educated people to larger cities, without considering rural communities. 

Big cities have unfavorable economic conditions for millennials, and some come to regret their choice of locales. As I have written before, “Maybe it is the high cost-of-living, lack of housing, or the many failed economic policies leaving cities suffering the largest net annual outmigration of post-college millennials.” Rural America is much more affordable for millennials on a budget. 

A recent New York Times oped by Dr. Samuel Abrams, a political scientist, argues millennials should reconsider their anti-rural bias. “The conventional wisdom among young college-educated people seems to be that living in a small country town would be a dead end for them. But these preconceptions are not only incorrect, they are also unduly limiting opportunities of new college graduates.”

Anti-rural bias stems from a cartoonish picture of rural America. Perhaps it is big-city, liberal, snobbery that we’ve seen from celebrities that continues to feed this anti-rural bias. However, these small-towns are more than just “flyover” country, as Dr. Abrams points out.

According to a recent survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, rural communities provide satisfying career opportunities for college-educated Americans despite their small-town elements. The survey covered social capital, civic health, and quality of life in the United States.

The survey also found that job prospects in rural towns were comparable to those in urban cities. Dr. Abrams expands, “There remains a need for skilled college graduates in rural areas, whether it’s in the health services, technology or consulting work. Certainly, the data show that educated rural Americans are content with their job opportunities and optimistic about the future.” 

Many rural communities have both the supply of open jobs and demand for skilled workers. In these small towns the American Dream is still attainable. These towns are often safer, have lower cost of living, and have much more available housing. 

Dr. Abrams also adds that “Highly educated rural residents also reported high levels of satisfaction with their communities.” It seems that getting over a bit of anti-rural bias and at least considering a smaller town might be a good idea for recent grads





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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