Sorry Ms. Dunham: Millenials Like New York

MLewyn's picture

Yesterday, I posted about the relationship between millenials and cities, showing that in some cities, population growth is indeed due to growth in the millenial (20-34) population, while in others, millenials are leaving the city just like everyone else.  But of course, citywide data is often a bit misleading, because most cities have some very suburban neighborhoods.

So I decided to cure this flaw by looking at New York, the only place where the most urban area (Manhattan) is its own county. One might think that millenials are leaving Manhattan, given the widespread complaints (most recently and notoriously by actress Lena Dunham) about the borough's high housing costs.

In fact, millenials do seem to be moving to Manhattan: between 2000 and 2010, the number of persons aged 20-34 increased by about 7 percent, from 451,776 to 482,792.  This increase was most pronounced among persons aged 20-24 (whose population in the borough increased by over 10 percent) as opposed to older millenials.*  Similarly, Brooklyn's millenial population increased by about 8 percent, from 572,931 to 621,497. 

By contrast, the millenial population was flat or declining in the more suburban boroughs, increasing by less than 1000 people in Staten Island (from 90,480 to 91,305) and actually declining (though by less than 1000 people) in Queens.

And in actual suburbs, the millenial population declined.  In Long Island's Nassau County, the 20-34 population decreased from 230,756 to 221,932.  And in Long Island's more exurban Suffolk, the 25-34 population went down from 267,660 to 257,056.

In both suburbs, the 20-24 population actually increased, perhaps reflecting the presence of college students choosing to live at home or stay in Long Island for school.  But the 25-34 population nosedived by over 10 percent in both suburban counties (from 162,558 to 142,556 in Nassau, 191,695 to 166,685 in Suffolk).  

So in New York, the verdict seems clear: millenials prefer city life and leave suburbs after graduation.

I note, however, that it may not be a good idea to infer a nationwide trend from Long Island.  After looking at Washington, D.C.'s census data, I looked at data for Loudoun County, a job-rich, high-growth suburb of Washington.  The millenial population did not increase as rapidly as the total population, but it did increase by about 50 percent.** So millenials will go to suburbs if jobs are there - but not to stagnant bedroom communities.


*The numbers: for 20-24, from 120,624 to 141,558; for 25-34, from 331,152 to 341,234.  By contrast, persons aged 35-44 were more likely to leave the borough then to move in, and persons over 65 increased by 15 percent or so, from 186,776 to 214,153.

**The total population increased from just over 169,000 to just over 312,000, while the millenial population increased from 36,828 to 56,113.


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