Millennials Continue to Leave Big Cities

lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2019

Census figures show smaller drop in young urban residents than previous years, but many still leaving for cheaper housing, better schools

The Wall Street Journal

Large U.S. cities lost tens of thousands of millennial and younger Gen X residents last year, according to Census figures released Thursday that offer fresh signs of cooling urban growth.

Cities with more than a half million people collectively lost almost 27,000 residents age 25 to 39 in 2018, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the figures. It was the fourth consecutive year that big cities saw this population of young adults shrink. New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington and Portland, Ore., were among those that lost large numbers of residents in this age group.

The drop in young urban residents last year was smaller than in 2017, when big cities lost nearly 54,000 residents in this age group. But the sustained declines signal a sharp reversal from the beginning of the decade, when young adults flooded into cities and helped lead an urban revival.

The 2018 drop was driven by a fall in the number of urban residents between 35 and 39 years old. While the number of adults younger than that rose in big cities, those gains have tapered off in recent years.

Separate Census figures show the majority of people in these age groups who leave cities move to nearby suburbs or the suburbs of other metro areas.

City officials say that high housing costs and poor schools are main reasons that people are leaving. Although millennials-the cohort born between 1981 and 1996-are marrying and having children at lower rates than previous generations, those who do are following in their footsteps and often settling down in suburbs.

“They might prefer to stay in the city for lifestyle reasons but might end up leaving because of the quality of the public goods,” said Katherine Levine Einstein, an assistant professor of political science at Boston University.

Prof. Einstein helped lead a 2017 study of U.S. mayors that found that only 13% said the housing stock fit the needs of their constituents “very well” or “extremely well,” a sentiment that was true in rich and poor cities alike. “They see a really serious mismatch between what their city’s current housing stock is and what their residents need,” she said.

New York lost almost 38,000 people age 25 to 39 last year, a decline that was roughly twice the size that it experienced each of the previous three years. That drop coincided with the city’s first overall population decline in more than a decade in 2018.

Among the big cities that gained large numbers of young adults were Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Austin, Seattle, Denver and Columbus.

By Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg

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