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The pull toward “close-in” neighborhoods

City Observatory has a new report out called, Youth Movement: Accelerating America’s Urban Renaissance. In it, they look at and track the number of 25 to 34-year-olds with a 4-year college degree living in “close-in neighborhoods” within the 51 largest metro areas in the United States. The first thing I asked myself when I read this was, “what’s a close-in neighborhood?” They define it as being a three mile radius centered on the CBD of each metro area. They opted for a distance-based measurement because municipal boundaries usually vary a lot and can therefore be misleading.

So what did they discover? From 2010 to 2016, the number of young and well-educated people in central neighborhoods increased by about 32% or 1.2 million. And it happened in every single large US metro area. In 80% of these cities, the growth rate also increased compared to the period of 2000 to 2010. Overall, City Observatory believes that this demographic cohort is now about 2.5x more likely to live in a close-in neighborhood compared to other Americans. And I don’t believe that this pandemic is going to change that.

One of the things that’s interesting about this study is that it takes you below some of the top line numbers that you might hear. For example, the above chart starts by showing you the total population living “close-in” within the top 51 metro areas — again, people living within 3 miles of a CBD. From 2000 to 2010, this population figure was more or less flat at about 9.4 million people. But the number of adults and young adults with a 4-year degree increased pretty significantly, driving up the college attainment rate. So even though the total population may not have changed, the demographic composition did.

For a copy of the full report, click here.

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