The best place for Gen Z to find a job? Austin, Texas.
That’s according to recent data from LinkedIn analyzing millions of entry-level hires from the past two years to determine the best cities for kick-starting a career. While postgrad hubs like New York City and San Francisco aren’t falling off the map anytime soon, sleeper hits in the South are rapidly entering the playing field.
The Sunbelt overall dominated the top 10 metro areas for entry-level growth, with a few exceptions. Leading the way is Austin, where entry-level hiring grew by 21% from 2020 to 2021. Chattanooga, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C., followed behind with 15.4% and 15% growth, respectively.
But Austin has been on the rise for some time now. As early as the 1990s, the city was dubbed “Silicon Hills,” a nod to the growing number of startups and tech companies opening up shop there. Today, dozens of Fortune 500 tech companies maintain Austin-area offices, including Amazon, Google, IBM, Apple, and PayPal.
The job growth helped turn the city into a millennial boomtown. Gen Z has quickly caught on, too. A 2019 study by housing site Nestpick ranked Austin the No. 1 city in Texas and No. 8 city nationwide for their cohort. The pandemic only accelerated the influx of young workers, many of whom decamped to smaller, more affordable cities across the country to log on remotely.
That was the case for Jack Chamberlin, a 2020 graduate who told LinkedIn he knew he wanted to move to Austin, whether or not his job was based there.
“Two of my best friends were interning for Oracle and IBM here in Austin, so I visited them for a couple of weeks, got a pulse for the city, fell in love with it,” said the San Francisco native, who is now working at Dell, which is headquartered in an Austin suburb. “Austin felt like a really great way to have that California culture, California mentality but at a Texas price point.”
But as more and more recent grads like Chamberlin move south, the cost of living is skyrocketing. Across the country, average monthly rent in February soared 15% year over year, but Austin is in a league of its own. Rent in Texas’s capital outpaced the rest of the U.S. with 40% year-over-year growth, topping Redfin’s list of cities with the fastest-rising rent.
This kind of uncontained hypergrowth can have damaging impacts on long-term residents and the city’s economic infrastructure. Homelessness tends to spike in cities where people spend a third of their take-home pay on rent, and the greater Austin region has double the statewide rate of homeless people per capita, Fortune reported.
While Austin-based Gen Zers and millennials have taken to TikTok to complain about the soaring rent in the area, it seems the city’s status as a hub for young workers may be here to stay.
Aneesh Dhawan, a 25-year-old who moved to Austin to launch Gen Z consulting startup Knit, told local outlet Austonia in December 2021 that his generation is composed of eager creators and entrepreneurs.
“Austin’s such a great place to do that,” he said. “I think that’s definitely one thing that attracts a lot of my generation to the city.”