Cities Transformed by Young, Wealthy Residents

More educated, high-income people are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods at a clip not experienced in 40 years.

June 13, 2016

CLEVELAND – A wave of young, educated and relatively high-earners are moving to urban areas in numbers not seen since the 1970s, when the U.S. Census Bureau started keeping track of the information, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move to the cities started in the 2000s and has been on the upswing ever since.

Economists point to a wide range of reasons for the urban revival, including more jobs, lower crime and young professionals delaying starting families. Homeownership concerns and stricter lending for mortgages have spurred more long-term renters as well.

Growth in urban wealth touched 26 cities in a recent survey of U.S. Census data by Jed Kolko, a senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California-Berkeley. He started analyzing trends in 2000, finding that among the top 30% of all U.S. households by income, 400,000 more picked urban living in 2014 than in 2006.

The influx of these young, high-earners also has spurred neighborhood revitalization, as well as pushed for better public transportation and walkability. But that has also led to some lower-earners being forced to move to the suburbs, creating new strains on services, schools and transportation. “The housing affordability issues are no longer limited to the high-cost coastal cities,” said Stockton Williams, executive director of the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.