September 29, 2014 / 10:39 PM / 3 years ago

New Yorkers fled to suburbs but offspring seek city life: report

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Travelers and commuters walk through Grand Central Station in New York November 27, 2013.Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the 1950s to the 1980s, families in the New York City area fled to the outer suburbs, but their offspring are heading back in droves to eight counties that make up the city's regional core, according to a report released on Monday.

For the first time since World War II, population growth from 2010-2013 in the core outpaced the suburbs by more than double, according to James Hughes, dean of Rutgers University's school of planning and public policy, and Joseph Seneca, a Rutgers economics professor.

"The core accounted for the great majority (69.3 percent) of the region’s total population growth — the suburban ring just 30.7 percent," the report said. "This is unparalleled in postwar annals."

"We are seeing an urban rebirth and actually the opposite -shrinkage - in the outer boroughs of the region," Hughes said in a telephone interview, referring to the slower growth in the suburbs. "It's more than a blip."

The regional core includes the five New York counties of New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens and Richmond and three New Jersey counties of Essex, Hudson and Union.

The 27 outer suburban counties in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania experienced exponential growth from 1950 to 1980, nearly doubling their total population as the Baby Boom and urban flight were underway.

They gained a total of about 177,000 people each year while the regional core lost about 29,000 people a year.

That all changed when the children of the Baby Boomers, called Echo Boomers, grew up, got bored of the suburbs and sought to live and work in "walkable, 24/7 environments with mass transit," Hughes said.

Emerging from the 2007 financial recession, the regional core gained about 85,000 people a year from 2010 to 2013, the study found.

"For the first time in the post World War II era, population growth in the historic center of the region surpassed that of the suburbs," the report said.

The suburban ring continued to grow, but at a much reduced rate of about 38,000 persons a year, barely 20 percent of the annual pace of the earlier period, the report said.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andre Grenon

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