Top 15 metro areas ranked by teenage population.
While teen spending has slowed somewhat recently, the group remains one of the most acquisitive and trend-conscious. Many teens reside in college towns, where cultural amenities are a strong lure for their baby-boomer parents. “Family-oriented places, almost by definition, have more teenagers, and college towns have more 18 and 19 year olds,” said Tom Exter, director of data development for MapInfo. Immigrants also play a role because they tend to have large families. New York City was on the full list but didn’t make the top set.
Teens comprise 12 percent of the total population.
Orem is the sixth safest city in the U.S., according to the FBI. Citizens are responsible for the city’s low crime rate, according to the Orem Police Department. The apparently friendly environment appeals to families: Utah has an average family size of 3.5 people, compared with the national average of 2.6 people, according to the 2000 census.
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS
Bryan and College Station, located in South Central Texas, have grown in step with Texas A&M University. In 2000, Bryan-College Station added 752 new homes with an average value of $104,600 each. A new shopping center, Wolf Pen Plaza Center, is under construction and will include Ross Dress for Less, Shoe Carnival and Goody’s.
After the Vietnam War ended, many refugees from Southeast Asia settled around Merced and Fresno. According to the 2000 census, 45.2 percent of residents in the Merced area speak a non-English language at home. Another surge in population is expected in 2004, when the 10th campus of the University of California opens.
“Our population pyramid looks like Mexico’s population pyramid,” said Texas A&M International University assistant professor Michael Yoder. “We have a high birth rate that’s resulted in a large, young population, like Mexico.” Others insisted that increased trade and NAFTA are the behind Laredo’s growth spurt.
The 2000 census recorded 168,215 foreign-born residents in the Hidalgo County metro area, which includes McAllen, Edinburg and Mission. That’s 29.5 percent of the overall population — much higher than the state’s share of 13.9 percent. According to experts, young people immigrate at higher rates than other age groups.
According to the 2000 census, Tulare County’s population grew by 18 percent since 1990. Builders are buying land at a quick clip and houses are sprouting like weeds. Over the next two decades, the region’s dairy farms will be replaced by 200,000 new residents living in 71,000 new homes.
BROWNSVILLE-HARLINGEN-SAN BENITO, TEXAS
According to the Census Bureau, the Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito area, was the fifth fastest-growing area in Texas between 1990 and 2000. Employment grew at a rate of 5.2 percent compared with 3.2 percent for the entire state. Top employers include the University of Texas, Brownsville; Wal-Mart, and Fruit of the Loom.
SALT LAKE CITY-OGDEN, UTAH
It’s not for nothing that Utah is called “the marrying state” and “the baby state.” The large Mormon population keeps Utah growing. But the demographics may be shifting. Already, the number of people over 60 in the county has overtaken the number of teenagers. In six years, the over-60 set will outnumber elementary-age children.
ST. CLOUD, MINN.
The fact that Minnesota had the highest median income for both families and singles in 2000 — $57,884 for families and $28,721 for singles — has attracted transplants from within and outside the state. Immigrants have also contributed to the high number of teens.
Midland is famous for being the place where George W. Bush grew up and started his business career and where Baby Jessica McClure was rescued from a well. (Odessa is Midland’s sister city.) What attracts people to the area is oil. When oil prices are high, the region is flush with luxury cars and boats parked in driveways.
The Central Valley is fertile in more ways than one. It contains some of the best farmland in the state and its population is expected to triple to 12 million by 2040. All those people will need places to live. A study of the Sacramento region, which includes Yolo, said the area will run out of land before 2050.
Flagstaff has been a refuge from the heat for Phoenix residents in summer and a ski area in winter. It’s also popular for year-round living. One reason is Northern Arizona University, which attracts skiers, contemporary hippies, New Age enthusiasts, and the professionals and service folks that cater to them and their children.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is drawing suburban teens with a new, state-of-the-art business school. There’s also the growing Latin population of the Chicago area, as revealed by the last census. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Latinos make up 6 percent of the undergraduate enrollment.
The Tri-Cities and Seattle were the only two Washington communities to add jobs in 2001, according to state employment figures. The addition of 7,000 workers to the Tri-Cities is heating up the housing market, driving up school enrollment and giving a boost to businesses.
Like other rural California communities, once-prized agricultural land is now more valuable as new housing lots. Former city dwellers are jumping at the chance to buy spacious homes with large yards at a fraction of the cost of urban real estate. SUVs and soccer moms are a ubiquitous sight where there were once grapes and farmers.
SOURCE: MAPINFO CORPORATION, A MARKET RESEARCH COMPANY BASED IN TROY, NEW YORK
NOTE: Teens aged 12 to 17. *stars indicate differences of less than 0.1 percent.