The Twin Cities has gotten some prominent national publicity lately all but ordering young professionals to move here.

There's no reason to think it will make it any easier for local companies to actually recruit them.

It's always been tough to get people to move to a place where it's 4 degrees below zero on Thanksgiving morning. It takes a sales job, and the key step in the sales process is "awareness."

The good news for recruiters is that a piece just published by the Atlantic can go into their marketing kit as is, for it clearly makes the economic case for people to come here.

It wasn't even about Twin Cities, exactly, but the difficulty folks under the age of 35 have finding an affordable city to buy a house and settle down.

There are plenty of places where housing is cheap, but they also tend to be places without a lot of high-paying career opportunities. Conversely, there are places like San Francisco or New York with great opportunity but very expensive housing.

The chief economist for the online real estate firm Trulia noted that in San Francisco and New York, millennials actually make more money than the metrowide median yet still can't afford to buy a place without doubling up.

So the challenge is to find a major metro area that's both economically vibrant and not so costly.

The Atlantic came up with a very short list: just Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and the Twin Cities. In these three areas, 50 percent of the houses are affordable for middle-class millennials, and yet they finished in the top 10 of a ranking of upward mobility.

Of the five big metro areas with the highest median incomes — New York; Boston; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and the Twin Cities — only here is it pretty easy to find an affordable place to live.

Not surprisingly, that basic economic argument is very much a part of the pitch Twin Cities recruiters make.

Millennials "are thinking about cost," said Paul DeBettignies, principal of a Minneapolis headhunting firm. "For what I'm paying in the North Loop [in Minneapolis], it's expensive for Minnesota but it's not if you are from nearly anywhere else."

He described recruiting a young candidate who made, with bonus, more than $200,000 at his job in New York. DeBettignies explained that he could potentially earn about $135,000 in the Twin Cities.

The job candidate didn't like hearing this, of course, but it turned out the candidate's small apartment in New York cost $3,600 a month and parking his car cost another fortune. Twice the living space is available in the Twin Cities at half the cost, DeBettignies said, and only a seven-block walk from the new job.

Having a deep roster of major corporate employers also helps attract people from out of state, said Peter Lawyer, the senior partner and managing director of the Minneapolis office of the Boston Consulting Group, who also noted it can be difficult to get MBAs from business schools on the coasts to consider the Twin Cities.

"We hire a good number of people who are in dual-career situations," he said. "The Twin Cities market is one of the better places in the country for two career-minded people to conduct a job search."

Currently, the Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment rate of any large metro area in the country, at 3.6 percent.

Yet Jennifer Kelly, who recruits MBAs across the country for St. Paul-based Ecolab, worries that top MBA candidates don't even have the Twin Cities on their list.

Her strategy is simple: Get the most desirable candidates to visit. "That's how I win," she said.

Based on what DeBettignies has learned recruiting people from out of state, he said he can't understand why the region hasn't put far more effort into selling itself as a destination for millennials.

DeBettignies has been closely watching one big employer that has been trying to get people out of the Twin Cities, as makes an aggressive effort to fill technology openings in its hometown of Seattle.

DeBettignies knows that some Minnesotans are going to accept offers, but what's interesting to him is that those most likely to go all appear to have grown up here.

"The ones who are not from here, who have been here for a little while, are not interested," he said. "They say, 'You know what? Here it's actually pretty cool.' " • 612-673-4302