Are Millennials Leaving Select Major Cities?

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Are Millennials flocking to the major cities, or are they settling elsewhere?

David Johnson of TIME Magazine reports:

“Millennials flocked to U.S. cities over the past decade, but in some places, the migration appears to be reversing. After years of growth, the population of Millennials in Boston and Los Angeles has fallen since 2015, with more young people leaving the cities than arriving last year, according to the latest Census data. And Millennial growth has slowed in large hubs like Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

“Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California, first suggested in 2015 that cities would begin to see declines in Millennials. With the largest birth group turning 27 this year, Myers says it’s only a matter of time before Millennials head to the suburbs for more space.

“To see which cities have reached ‘peak Millennial’ — a term Myers coined —we analyzed a decade of Census data through 2016. We found that while tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle are still drawing young people, large East Coast cities, like New York and D.C., are fast approaching peak Millennial, with plateauing populations of those born between 1980 and 1996. And then there are cities like Boston, which already appear to have reached their peak. Boston lost roughly 7,000 Millennials in 2016, after a record high of 259,000 the previous year.”

Why are Millennials moving out of some cities? Housing cost is reason number one. But there are also job opportunities in the suburbs and other surrounding communities, and Millennials believe they have a better shot at living a middle-class lifestyle outside of the major cities.

Whether you are church leader in a city center or in a suburban community, this demographic shift indicaties how your community is changing. As Millennials have aged and changed priorities they are less compelled to live in a major urban hub. How will suburban churches respond as these neighbors move in?

Suburban communities may be more affordable. But they do not automatically lend themselves to easy connections with neighbors in the way major cities often do, when you can’t help but bump into people walking the same streets. How can you help neighbors meet one another and find a place to belong?

As city centers see Millennials leave, another generation will come along behind them to fill their jobs and make their way. City centers will begin welcoming Generation Z. How will you help them find community and bless your city as part of the body of Christ?

It is not always easy for church leaders to keep tabs on how their communities are changing. We become so overwhelmed by the demands of the congregation that we are not always sure of who is coming or going and what that might mean for the future. Demographic studies are helpful. But so is keeping your ear to the ground. Ask your civic leaders, people you know who are in influential positions in the community, or those who are in law enforcement or the fire department if they have seen ways your community is changing. Prayerfully consider what that might mean for how you serve Christ in your community.

Ben SimpsonComment