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Millennials Leading a Decline in Car Ownership in Some U.S. Cities

The young and the recently arrived in Seattle are less and less likely to own a car, according to new Seattle Times analysis of Census data.
May 13, 2017, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to an article by Gene Balk, peak car is still alive and well in Seattle. "Census data show that from 2010 to 2015, the percentage of Seattle households that own a vehicle declined — that’s noteworthy because it’s something that hasn’t happened in decades," writes Balk.

According to Balk's analysis, the reason for the decline is the generational change brought about by Millennials. "At the start of this decade, someone under the age of 35 was just as likely to own a car as anyone else in Seattle. Five years later, car ownership among the city’s young had declined by about 3 percentage points," explains Balk.

The article includes data on other cities from around the city. Seattle leads the pack of cities that are decreasing car ownership—Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco. The cities with increasing car ownership are lead by Philadelphia, and followed by Atlanta, Denver, El Paso, and Raleigh. Interestingly, in July 2016, the news focused on how Seattle residents owned more cars than Atlanta residents—now we see these two cities' fortunes changing.

It should be noted that Seattle's reduced car ownership and other reports of declining car ownership from around the country are not reflective of the overall national trend in another measure of car culture: vehicle miles traveled. As Planetizen Blogger Steven Polzin has detailed, in terms of vehicle miles traveled, peak car is far from a reality.

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Published on Friday, May 12, 2017 in The Seattle Times
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