Austin, Texas has become the top destination of job-seeking young college graduates in the past few years as the economic recession has forced people to re-evaluate their priorities, according to the study from the Brookings Institute.

Overall, however, due to the dampening effects of the recession, migration within the U.S. crawled to its lowest rate in recorded history last year, potentially creating a ‘lost generation’ among Americans.

By examining the 2010 Census data, researchers at Brookings uncovered that among major metropolitan regions (those with population above 1-million) Austin saw the highest average annual net migration among college-educated adults between 2007-2009 (the worst period of the recession).

Austin was followed by Raleigh, N.C.; Portland, Ore., Riverside, Cal., and Phoenix, Ariz.

For college-educated adults between the ages of 25 and 34 (typically the most mobile group in the country), Austin was also the top draw during 2007-2009, seeing the arrival of about 14,300 people each year.

In fact, Texas accounted for three of the top five cities in this category, including Dallas and Houston. Rounding out the top five were Denver, Colo. and Seattle, Wash.

Austin, a university/research center with an active nightlife and vibrant music culture, is “known to have great cachet among young professionals,” Brookings noted.

“Austin rose to the lead, and two other relatively vibrant Texas metros, Dallas and Houston, moved up the list,” Brookings indicated. “Other rising areas like Denver, Seattle and Portland, tended to be knowledge-based cities with lifestyles attractive to young people.”

Interestingly, Riverside and Phoenix are still attracting college-educated adults despite the implosion of their housing markets and rising unemployment – although the net migration to these cities have dropped dramatically since the 2005-2007 boom period. Similarly, Las Vegas, Nevada, which might be the epicenter of the nation’s housing crisis, has witnessed a dramatic decline in the influx of new college-educated migrants.

Thus, with a lack of jobs and a glut of houses that cannot be sold, many American people are stuck where they are and cannot easily move to areas with brighter prospects.

“The tepid gains in employment and the rise in home foreclosures over the last couple of years have led to an even further plummeting of the nation’s already historically low levels of long distance migration,” wrote William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

Indeed, between March 2009 and March 2010 interstate migration amounted to 1.4 percent, lower than any year since the Census Bureau began collecting data in 1948.

“There is no doubt that the last three years have seen a plateau in migration for interstate moves and, in fact, total moves,” Frey added. “This is indicative of young adults encountering a brutal job market, as many double up or remain at home with their parents or other families.”

Brookings concluded that the decline of internal migration might have negative long-term consequences for the nation.

“The recent more tentative migration patterns of the younger and ‘best and brightest’ segments of our population are holding back the free flow of human and social capital that has made our society more vital and dynamic than most of our developed country peers,” Brookings said. “This slowdown, in addition to the decline in immigration can be expected to pick up when the economy revives. But if it takes too long, we run the risk of creating a ‘lost generation’ of young adults, the likes of which we have not seen for some time.”