NC State’s Dr. Mike Walden – A Return to the City?
There’ve been two great migrations in our history. The first was the movement from rural areas to the cities. And the second was the shift out of the cities to the suburbs. Now some analysts are saying we’re in the middle of the next big migration, a return to the city. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains what they mean.
“Well, what they’re basing this on — they being demographers – is, (are) the laboring preferences of the largest generation that we now have — second only to the baby boomers — and this is the so-called Generation Y or some people call them the millennials. These are the folks that were born between 1980 and 2000.
“And what we’re seeing so far, now this may change down the road, is what we’re seeing so far among that generation is they have some different preferences. They want to, for example …, be connected electronically. They expect that. They also want convenience. They have been taught about some of the disadvantages of the automobile. So they tend to have a greater preference for mass transit.
“They like the diversity that they see in society. And all of these things, connectivity, convenience, public transit, diversity, all these things you are more likely to find in bigger cities than you are in rural areas or suburbs.
“It’s not a knock on rural areas or suburbs. It’s just a fact. And so many demographers are seeing in their data that many of these millennials are wanting to live in cities, for example, when they graduate from college. And many argue if this, indeed, is the case and it’s sustained, this is going to have a big impact, for example, on the housing market — housing values in suburbs, and, again, suburbs were the area of the country that had boomed the most over the last 50 years.
“Housing values in the suburbs, if the millennials are not moving there, may not rise as much in the future as they did in the past.”