Portland: the city where the young retire/are underemployed

Researchers have found that Portland, Oregon is indeed a place where young workers are often underemployed:

Portland may not be “a city where young people go to retire,” but it’s the place they go to be underemployed, a new study found.

A famous quip by Fred Armisen on the television show “Portlandia” led Portland State University researchers to investigate the reality behind the comment. The quirky IFC network series pokes fun at the Oregon city’s many eccentricities.

The researchers’ review found that Portland is a magnet for the young and college educated from across the country, even though a disproportionate share of them are working part-time or holding jobs that don’t require a degree.

In short, young college grads are moving here, and staying, because they like the city’s amenities and culture, not because they’re chasing jobs. Their participation in the labor force tracks with other cities, but they make 84 cents on the dollar when compared to the average of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, the research found.

Not exactly a shining place for the “creative class.” I don’t remember Richard Florida talking much about the employment or economic struggles of the creative class; rather, such cities are often depicted as tech hubs with lots of exciting companies and opportunities. A city may be a cultural magnet but it also has to have enough jobs so that people can stay.

What is most interesting to me about this is that it appears the migration of young adults to Portland has continued in the last few decades even when there are not enough full-time jobs. Is there a threshold point when people will stop going to Portland? At what point do economic realities trump the cultural vibrancy of Portland?

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