David Albouy, an economics professor at the University of Illinois, has created a metric, the sacrifice measure, which essentially charts how poor a person is willing to be in order to live in a particular city. Portland, he discovered, is near the top of the list. Even when college-educated residents get jobs there, they earn 84 cents for the average dollar earned in other cities, according to Greg Schrock and Jason Jurjevich, professors of urban studies at Portland State University. In 41 of the country’s 50 largest cities, young, educated people earn more than they do in Portland.
Portland has taken hold of the cultural imagination as, to borrow the tag line from “Portlandia,” the place where young people go to retire. And for good reason: The city has nearly all the perks that economists suggest lead to a high quality of life — coastlines, mountains, mild winters and summers, restaurants, cultural institutions and clean air. (Fortunately, college-educated people don’t value sunshine as much as they used to.) Portland also has qualities that are less tangible but still likely to attract young people these days, like a politically open culture that supports gay rights and the legalization of marijuana — in addition to the right of way for unicyclists or the ability to marry in a 24/7 doughnut shop. “It’s really captured the zeitgeist of the age in a way that no other small city in America ever has,” said Aaron Renn, an urban-affairs analyst who writes the Urbanophile blog. According to professors from Portland State University, the city has been able to attract and retain young college-educated people at the second-highest rate in the nation. (Louisville, Ky., is No. 1.)
No further explanation will be offered, you just have to come see it to believe it.