Exodus Starts: Millennials Ditch City Life

The urban revival of America’s core inner cities has been a decades-long failed experiment, as deindustrialization coupled with failed liberal policies have created a growing problem of inequality and violent crime. Middle-class advancement was once localized in the core of America’s cities, but that is not so much the case today, as those areas are labeled a “barbell economy,” divided between highly-paid professionals and low-skill service workers.

Brookings Institution notes as early as the 1970s, middle-class income in the inner cities started to shrink more than anywhere else. Today, in most US inner cities, the cores are more unequal than their surrounding suburbs, noted geographer Daniel Herz.

As the failed American inner city experiment nears the latter stages before a collapsing point, a new report from Time could be the final nail in the coffin for some American inner cities, as the article suggests “cities have already reached ‘Peak Millennial’ as young people begin to leave.” 

According to the latest Census data, after years of growth, the population of millennials in Boston and Los Angeles have declined since 2015, as a mass exodus from city life starts to take shape. Other cities such as Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., are experiencing similar issues but not as severe while growth rates of millennials plateau.

Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California, called the peak of the millennial population in major U.S. cities back in 2015, with the largest birth group of the cohort turning 27 this year. To note, Myers could be a far better forecaster than Dennis Gartman, but we’ll leave that for another conversation.

Myers said at the critical age of 27 and above, that is the time when the millennial generation will participate in, what we call, ‘millennial flight’ to the suburbs. Such a trend could be the final nail in the coffin for some American inner cities, who were expecting the millennial generation to lead the charge in the revival process, as what we’ve learned from Myers– that may not be the case.

The Times explains how Myers coined the term— ‘peak millennial’. Interesting, the plateauing of millennial populations are occurring in East Coast cities, while the West Coast is still drawing in young people.

To see which cities have reached “peak millennial” — a term Myers coined —we analyzed a decade of Census data through 2016. We found that while tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are still drawing young people, large East Coast cities, like New York and D.C., are fast approaching peak millennial, with plateauing populations of those born between 1980 and 1996.


And then there are cities like Boston, which already appear to have reached their peak. Boston lost roughly 7,000 millennials in 2016, after a record high of 259,000 the previous year.

In the explanation of millennial flight from America’s inner cities, Jim Rooney, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce said, “they’re doing what every generation does — they get married, start a family and think about having a backyard and looking at school systems” in the suburbs.

While that is definitely true, and what we’ve mentioned above, millennials tend to live in core inner cities, where inequality and violent crime are sometimes out of control. Also, many millennials are becoming priced out of real estate in these areas, as wage stagnation is drowning many millennials into more and more debt, on top of their already ballooning balance sheet of liabilities. Think student loans….

In Boston, the millennial peak was confirmed in 2014 through 2015, as it appears it’s all downside from here. Rooney’s findings conclude millennials in the region are being priced out of homes with the median home in Boston around $561,000, according to Zillow.

In Chicago, the millennial plateau occurred in 2014 through 2015, hitting a high of 814,000 millennials in 2015 and falling by a few hundred in 2016. Jack Lavin, president of the area’s Chamber of Commerce said millennials are moving to the suburbs to start a family— ditching urban areas. Nevertheless, the article does not mention— the out of control homicides adding to the fear of city life.

In Los Angeles, the millennial peak was confirmed in 2015, which saw a decline of about 2,500 millennials in 2016. “It’s hard for millennials to achieve a middle-class lifestyle that they think they deserve”, said Myers. With that being said, millennials are moving out.

Bottomline: The ruling elite and their inner-city playground planners who were expecting the millennial generation to revive their decades-long failed experiment are about to come to harsh terms with the reality of a millennial exodus.


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