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Nina Sharma’s mother was from Iowa, her father from India, but they moved to New York “because it was the centre of the universe and that’s where they wanted to be”, she recalls. For years, as she worked in Manhattan for Carnegie Hall and the New York Public Library, Ms Sharma felt the same way, until a work trip took her to the Rocky Mountains.
“In my New York-centric mind I hadn’t realised you could have a real career in a beautiful place and have a life and access to incredible nature,” she says. So in 2012, aged 33, she left New York for Colorado, where she now runs an innovation programme on the University of Denver’s leafy campus.
For generations, ambitious young people like Ms Sharma’s parents flocked to a handful of America’s biggest cities, looking for opportunity in commercial hubs like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.
That pattern has been broken by millennials, the coveted talent pool who began to come of age around 2000. As they make their way through the workforce, buy properties and have children of their own they are not only elbowing out Generation X as the driving force in the US economy; millennial migrants are redrawing the map of America.