Listen Up Ya'll: 5 Reasons Why The South Is Rising In Popularity And Power

by Jaja Liao

The South has the stereotype of being the land of rednecks, racism and poverty. It is seen as the place where people ride on tractors all day, marry their second cousins and keep pigs as pets.

While there is no doubt that this still holds true for a some parts of the South, here is something else that's also true: The South's economic growth has outpaced every other region's for one generation. Here's why:

1. People can afford to live here

It's no coincidence that Yankees love moving down South after retirement. Southern cities make up 15 of the 25 Best Places To Retire To In 2014 list by Forbes, where affordability (low taxes and low living expenses) was a major consideration. But it's not just old people who are moving down.

In 2012, six of the top eight states with the highest net domestic migration gains were in the South: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. As for the list of states with the highest net domestic losses, none of the top 10 were southern states.

In fact, the top four states with the highest losses were New York, Illinois, New Jersey and California. Maybe young people right out of college are still chasing the usual Manhattan or Hollywood dreams, but it seems like the American population as a whole is not.

2. Businesses are moving in and creating jobs

Individuals aren't the only ones seeing the attractiveness of the South's affordability; businesses see it, too. Low taxes combined with other factors, such as fewer unions, makes the South an ideal place for businesses.

A report by CEO magazine in 2012 found that seven of the eight best states for businesses were in the South: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. The worst states? California, New York and Illinois (again).

Naturally, these businesses are bringing in jobs, and not just any kind of jobs: high-tech jobs. Forbes found that the top four cities that create the most tech jobs are in the South. Ironically, Silicon Valley came in at fifth place, preceded by Austin, Raleigh, Houston and Nashville.

In addition, overall unemployment is lower in the South than it is in the North or the West.

3. Higher education is rising

Admittedly, even though every state in the South falls below the national average of percentage of residents over 25 with a bachelor's degree or above, big cities in the South are experiencing what seems like a higher education boom.

In the past decade, cities like Raleigh and Austin are seeing numbers like 55.2 and 52.3 percent, respectively, for the increase of bachelor degrees. Traditional "brain" cities, like New York and San Francisco, are seeing only 24.4 and 19.2 percent growths, respectively.

4. People are having kids

From 2000 to 2010, every Southern state besides Louisiana (because of Hurricane Katrina) gained children under the age of 10. In fact, Texas and North Carolina both increased in child population by an impressive 15 percent.

On the other hand, every state in the Northeast as well as California experienced a decrease in child population. The three states that had it the worst were New York, Rhode Island and Michigan, which all lost children by double-digit margins.

Children represent the future, and an increase of children is an important indicator for how politically powerful a state might become later on. In 2013, as a result of the 2010 census, Texas gained four congressional seats, Florida gained two and South Carolina and Georgia both gained one.

States like New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all lost seats.

5. It's nice and sunny

Six out of the top nine happiest states are in the South. Sunshine generally brings happiness, and being happy is obviously important.

Photo Courtesy: Neu Images