News Update: The Decentralization of Middle-Aged Workers

  • In a comparison of people aged 25 to 34 in the 2000 census to the same group ten years later (aged 35 to 44 in 2010), the cohort’s presence in suburbia has increased by 12 percent. The same group has experienced a decrease of 22.7 percent in the urban core.  In terms of real population numbers, this means an increase of 1.8 million in the suburbs and a decrease of 1.3 million in the core. Rust belt cities in the Midwest have lost as much as 30% of this age group in the last decade, while major cities like New York and San Francisco have also experienced double-digit losses. The areas with significant growth in this important age group are newer cities in the South, including the North Carolina suburbs around Raleigh and Charlotte and the Texas suburbs of San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. It should come as no surprise that many condo markets in the urban cores have suffered as a result.  Developers will need to create enticing offers in the city—namely more affordable housing—to attract the generations who are now looking towards the periphery.


  • Ethnic isolation is ever-present in the suburbs of Washington DC.  Koreans, Central Americans, and other immigrant groups are finding it difficult to assimilate into white neighborhoods, as many remain isolated in pockets of suburbia. Conversely, urban core districts like Chinatown are shrinking—as businesses move to the suburbs. A professor from the University of Maryland notes that these trends are representative of the growing number of ethnic suburban neighborhoods across the United States.
  • Major companies like Quicken Loans (headquartered in Detroit) are relocating to the urban core to attract younger employees. Population data suggests that workers in their 30s and 40s have increasingly moved to suburbia, but mid-20 somethings still prefer the city life and its combination of cheap mass transit and entertainment options. Corporations are taking note—giving up the enticing mix of open land and cheap rent along the periphery. This news parallels an earlier story on the decrease of Chicago’s suburban corporate headquarters in favor of alternative options in the city center (see this post).

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