Gregory Lobo Jost
Surprise: More people move out of NYC than move in!
The New York City Comptroller’s Office recently issued a report on New York’s Delicate Migration Balance[pdf], co-authored by Frank Braconi (formerly of the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council) and Farid Heydarpour. Based on the 2005 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census, the report presents some surprising information on who is leaving the City, who is coming to the City, and how the City’s population still manages to expand.
2005 was the first year that detailed information on migration was available in a non-decennial census year -- it's nice not to have to wait until 2010 for this type of information. UNHP also used this same data earlier this year to show migration patterns within New York counties, and how the median income of those moving to the Bronx was actually lower than those of current Bronx residents.
What is perhaps most surprising about the 2005 data is that more people left the City than arrived here, especially domestically. International immigration and (more significantly) a high birth rate are what keep the City’s population growing.
Overall, there is a high level of turn-over in the City’s population – about 4% per year, meaning more than 1/3 of the population will change over the course of a decade. Much of this turnover, both incoming and outgoing, is comprised of highly educated folks.
Some interesting trends arise when looking at the income levels of those who decide to leave the City. In sheer numbers, more low-income households (annual income under $40,000) leave the City, but only because this income category comprises 40% of all NYC households; their actual out-migration rate is average.
While there are much fewer moderate-income households ($40,000 - $59,999), they are actually much more likely to move out of the City, and often move to the South (the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia), where many of them buy homes (for a lot less than what they cost here). They are also more likely to be between 30 and 45 years old and single.
“Typically, they are young householders with a high school diploma and some college experience… Their high exit rates may reflect a regional economy that creates relatively better job opportunities for people at the high end and the low end of the educational spectrum.”
High-income households ($140,000 – $249,999) were also more likely to leave the City, but most often stay in the region, often moving to the NYC suburbs, and frequently continuing to work in the City, while their children attend suburban schools.
Middle-income households ($60,000 - $139,999), on the other hand, were less likely to leave, as were very wealthy households ($125,000 and above). It would be interesting to link the trends of these income groups to housing prices.
In terms of those who are migrating into the City, a whopping 62% of the 127,000 of the domestic arrivals in 2005 were aged 20 to 39, the bulk being in the 20 to 29 category. Those arriving are also more likely to be highly educated that current residents, and about half of them are white. They are also more likely not to have children.
But that doesn’t mean young people aren’t leaving the City. While the percentage of those leaving that are young is smaller, the total number of young people leaving is actually greater than those arriving.
One shortcoming of the data that the authors acknowledge is the undercounting of immigrants, especially the undocumented. While impossible to know the exact number, much of the growth in the City’s population that is visible through lower housing vacancy rates is due to this influx of undocumented immigrants.