Young Adults Aren't Fleeing Cities—Quite the Contrary

Joe Cortright presents the antidote to an emerging narrative about the shifting lifestyle preferences of young adults (i.e., Millennials).

January 8, 2018, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Millennials in the Wild

BigLike Images / Shutterstock

There's been no shortage of recent news reporting data showing young people leaving urban areas—news taken by some as a signal that the end of the back to the city movement of the past decade and more is coming to a close.

However, Joe Cortright has data to counter that narrative, taken from the 2016 American Community Survey. He lists some of the key data:

  • "The number of 25-34 year olds with four-year degrees living in large cities is growing almost five times faster than the overall rate of population growth in these cities: a 19 percent increase in 25-34s with a college degree compared to a 4 percent increase in overall population in these cities."
  • "The number of well-educated young adults increased in 51 of the 53 principal cities in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. (Only Rochester, New York and Tucson recorded declines)."

There's more data listed in the article. From this evidence, Cortright draws a few conclusions, including one about planning priorities to address these trends: "Our ability to accomodate [sic] the demands they are making on the scarce and slowly growing supply of great urban spaces and nearby housing is the real challenge we need to focus upon."

The article also includes this table, which the City Observatory has made available to share.

Planetizen has noticed the emerging narrative about the exit of Millennials from urban areas, sharing articles on the subject on many occasions throughout the year. It's might be worth taking another look at these articles with the data Cortright presents in mind. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 in City Observatory

View south along Interstate 45 (North Freeway) from the ramp between westbound Interstate 10 and southbound Interstate 45 in Houston, Harris County, Texas

Houston Apartments To Be Demolished for Freeway Widening

Despite a federal hold on the controversial freeway widening project, the Texas Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with the demolition of an apartment complex in downtown Houston.

July 5, 2022 - Houston Chronicle

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Street in downtown Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish ADU Ordinance Could Ease Housing Crunch

Recently approved revisions to the city’s accessory dwelling unit regulations prioritize long-term rentals to increase housing affordability for local renters.

July 6 - Whitefish Pilot

20 miles per hour speed limit sign in school zone

San Jose Begins Lowering Speed Limits

Thanks to a state bill, California cities can reduce speed limits on city streets by 5 miles per hour to improve traffic safety.

July 6 - San José Spotlight

University of Arizona

Tucson Development Boom Threatens Displacement of Longtime Residents

Median rent in Tucson rose by 30 percent since a year ago, prompting fears of displacement among many residents struggling to afford housing.

July 6 - Phoenix Business Journal

New Case Study Posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.