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Millennials in North Dakota are least likely in country to live with parents

GRAND FORKS, N.D.-More than anywhere else in the country, the youth of North Dakota are leaving the nest.

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GRAND FORKS, N.D.-More than anywhere else in the country, the youth of North Dakota are leaving the nest.

According to census data, a little more than 14 percent of the state's population of millennials-the generation between ages 18 and 34-are living at home with their parents. That's less than half the national average of about 33 percent and is the lowest share to be found in the U.S., where youth as a whole have been gravitating back to the childhood home since the turn of the century. In 2000, about 23 percent of people in the same age range were rooming with Mom and Dad.

Beyond the state image of rugged independence, there may be other factors at play in the launch of North Dakota's young people. Despite a downturn in commodity prices, the state still has a low unemployment rate. With more people in jobs, even younger workers can earn enough money to secure their own housing.

Keith Reitmeier, eastern region director for Job Service North Dakota, said the job market remains strong in the area under his jurisdiction. To demonstrate that, he pointed to high participation rates among employers in job fairs scheduled for Thursday in Grand Forks and next week in Fargo.

"We have 70 local employers signed up," Reitmeier said. "For Fargo next week, they'll probably have 90 or so. It just shows there's demand, and a lot of the times at these job fairs, it's more of the entry-level positions that employees are looking to fill."

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Despite layoffs in the energy and agricultural sectors, both areas which Reitmeier described as "a little soft lately," he said employment has been fairly steady on the whole. A strong state economy benefitted younger workers along with more experienced hands, he added, which could contribute to a financial ability to leave the childhood home for greener pastures.

Affordable housing also likely plays a role in pulling millennials into their own places.

Brandon Baumbach, a business development projects coordinator at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., said the strong state economy created a "major demand" for apartment units over the last few years. Baumbach said developers building to meet that demand have added to the job market while building housing options that may appeal to younger renters.

Grand Forks housing might be less affordable than offerings elsewhere in the state, but Baumbach said the cost is offset by people "getting paid well" in the local economy.

At the same time, while local wages have increased, affordable rental options may not have kept pace. More than 49 percent of renters in the Grand Forks metro area may face a cost burden, meaning they pay more than a third of their income towards their housing.

Back on the career side, Baumbach said younger workers might see a boost as members of another generation-the baby boomers-begin to retire. Replacement from the younger ranks could provide opportunities for entrance and advancement for the millennial bracket, he said.

Baumbach serves on the board of directors for the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals and at 28, is himself a millennial. He viewed the state's trends of youthful housing independence as a boon for the North Dakota economy as a whole.

"When there's less millennials hanging in their basements of their parents, that's a pretty good sign," he said. "They're not only participating in the workforce, but they're spending by either buying their own places or by renting-it's a functioning economy."

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