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The Young & The Restless, San Jose Edition


We brought economist Joe Cortright to San Jose to talk about why attracting college-educated young adults is so important for our city. Cortright is the Director of City Observatory, a virtual think tank and website with daily commentary that is on the “must-follow” list for anyone interested in what makes cities work.

According to Cortright’s “Young and Restless” report, one million college-educated 25 to 34 year olds move across state lines each year, and their preference for urban neighborhoods is fueling economic growth in cities across the nation.

But is this key demographic finding its way to San Jose?

To help answer this question, I’ve compiled demographic data from the 2014 American Community Survey, the most recent public data available. Below, I tackle the three questions posed by City Observatory in their Young and Restless research.

How well educated are San Jose’s young adults?

San Jose’s young adults are very well educated. In 2014, an estimated 45% of San Jose’s 25-34 year olds had bachelor’s degrees or higher. In California, the comparable figure is 33%.

Notably, the share of 25-34 year old’s who have college degrees is growing. In 2010, 39% of San Jose’s 25-34 year olds had a college degree.

How many college-educated young adults are in San Jose?

In 2014, San Jose was home to 69,400 college-educated 25-34 year olds, who accounted for 9% of the adult population (18 years and older). That’s roughly twice as many “Young and the Restless” as  in Oakland, and roughly half as many as in San Francisco.

Over the past 10 years, the number of college-educated 25-34 year olds in San Jose has grown faster than the overall population.

How well are San Jose’s urban core neighborhoods doing in attracting young adults?

City Observatory’s research shows that between 2000 and 2012, the number of college-educated young adults in central San Jose grew by over 50%.  (Central San Jose is defined as a 3-mile radius from the center of downtown.)

What neighborhoods are attracting the “young and restless” in the greatest numbers? Take a look for yourself in the map below, which shows the concentration of college-educated 25-34 year olds throughout the Bay Area by census tract, using data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey five-year estimates. The colors on the map correspond to the share of adults in the tract who are college educated 25-34 year olds, with darker-colored tracts having higher concentrations.

So far it looks like the most concentrated tracts in San Jose are in North San Jose where thousands of apartment units have been built in the last decade. Note that the data doesn’t include the most recent recent apartment projects downtown (Centerra and One South Market), both of which started leasing in 2016.

What patterns do you see? What San Jose neighborhoods do you think young college grads are attracted to?