BOISE -- The City of Trees is smashing yet another "best city" list" this week, ranking number two on the Forbes list of America's 25 Best Cities for Young Professionals.
So we wanted to find out why: what makes Boise so attractive to our millennial work force?
As the Treasure Valley is discovered as a great place to live, work and play, we've been gaining more attention and topping more national lists. But Forbes actually wrote that Boise is the most surprising ranking on this one, saying: "San Francisco is perhaps the least surprising city on our list. The most surprising may be No. 2 Boise, Idaho, which makes the list thanks to strong job growth projections and a high percentage of adults with college degrees..."
Several different critical factors combined make Boise appealing for recent graduates to pursue their dreams, putting us above cities like San Francisco, Austin and Denver.
However, people KTVB spoke with say they're not surprised at all that Boise was included in this measurement.
"It didn't surprise me that we were on the list. What surprised me was how high we were on the list," Idaho Business for Education President & CEO Rod Gramer said, "But when you think about it, Boise is a pretty attractive place to live."
There is a general consensus from people in the community that Boise's number two ranking from Forbes is deserved.
"This is like the Golden Age to live here," Gramer added.
Forbes ranked each of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas and divisions in the U.S. by six metrics crucial to recent graduates (source: Forbes)
"Salary – using PayScale data on the median salary earned by college graduates with zero to five years of work experience
Rent – Apartment List provided monthly data on the median price to rent a two-bedroom in each metro area. We calculated rent as a share of earnings using the Apartment List and PayScale data. Note we assumed young professionals were likely to split a two-bedroom with a roommate, so divided the two-bedroom rent in half.
Employment prospects – using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent tally of local unemployment, as well as data from Moody’s Analytics on job growth in 2016 and projections for 2017-2018
Networking opportunities – using Census data showing the percent of the population 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree
Social outlook – using Census data to determine the share of the local population aged 20 to 29. Since the spread between cities was relatively small on this metric we weighed it less heavily than the other data points."
"That millennial population is very soon going to become the biggest population in your work force so it's critical to their success that we're going to have that population here in the future," Boise Valley Economic Partnership Director of Economic Development Charity Nelson told KTVB.
So why does the City of Trees score so high?
"We have a tremendous culture in Boise for young professionals to thrive," Boise Young Professionals Executive Chair Sophie Sestero said. "That comes in all forms - from a lot of professional development opportunities and mentorship for established community members to help new young professionals get started."
Not to mention the personal side and quality of life: our vibrant culture, incredible outdoor and recreational opportunities, and relatively low cost of living compared to other metropolitan areas.
"We also have a lot of things going our way right now. One of the elements that article talks about is our job growth. We have seen job growth well above national average for several years in a row," Nelson added.
Namely in the technology, government, financial and entrepreneurial sectors.
"You have businesses that need business majors, finance majors, accounting majors, computer science majors. So we've got the critical mass of companies and we just have to match that with our education," Gramer added.
According to Forbes, the Boise area's projected annual job growth is 1.87 percent and our unemployment rate is 4.2 percent.
Nelson says while it's great to have a low unemployment rate, but that also creates a challenge when looking at the talent pipeline: it means less people are available to fill jobs.
Adults with bachelor's degrees or higher is at 43 percent and recent grads are earning a median salary of $45,700.
"Education is the number one economic development tool. so with a well-educated work force like this, we attract more companies, our companies are stronger, they can grow," Gramer added.
While rent is inarguably rising, Forbes says median rent as share of median salary is 22 percent.
Boise Young Professionals says they're one of the largest young professional organizations in the country and they believe that's a reflection of the amount of young professionals staying in the area, moving back - or "boomeranging" - as well as relocating here.
Forbes says the share of the local population aged 20 to 29 is 13 percent.
"It's nice to be able to network with those kinds of people and they all kind of migrate together and work together. It's awesome to see," young professional and Idaho Youth Ranch Social Media Coordinator Danielle Allsop said. "I'm just really grateful to be able to live in a city that I love and be able to support myself and network with like-minded people."
Allsop says the number of people she meets and can network with grows every day. Boise Young Professionals is growing at a record pace, Sestero said; they are adding about 100 members a month, bringing their total membership to 1,600 members.
Gramer says a big problem in Idaho as a whole is low wages. He says we have to be more competitive.
but he says when there's a tight labor market like there is now, wages go up because of supply and demand.
He believes Boise has the qualified work force for the jobs the city has to offer, but Idaho as a whole has a lot of work to do.
"There is a big disconnect in our state between some of the degrees being issued and some of the jobs we've got out there," Gramer said.