Here is an academic article on tri-state area demography: The Receding Metropolitan Perimeter: A New Postsuburban Demographic Normal (w PDF; 2014) | James W. Hughes, Joseph J. Seneca @blousteinschool. Excerpt is on our own.
… The new postwar suburbs of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s were an escape from inner-city turmoil, crime, poverty, failing schools, deteriorating public transit, ever-higher taxes, and recurring fiscal crises. This was the unparalleled era of tract house suburban America. …
… In the post-2010 years (2010–2013), a “new demographic normal” started to unfold: Population growth in the suburban ring slowed dramatically and, 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 regional core became much more attractive to suburban-saturated young adults as rental housing achieved housing market dominance. …
… The locus of population losses in the early postwar decades (1950–1980) occurred in the urban heart of the region. The post-2010 losses are taking place in the region’s outer suburban reaches. …
Summary of Findings
– Between 1950 and 1980, the suburban ring of 27 counties in four states experienced explosive growth, nearly doubling its total population; it gained more than 5.3 million people (+177,458 persons per year). At the same time, the regional core of eight urban counties in New York and New Jersey was contracting sharply, losing close to a million (-859,660) people (-28,655 persons per year).
– In the second period (2010–2013), the suburban ring continued to grow, but at a much reduced scale (+37,742 persons per year), barely 20 percent of the annual pace of the earlier period. In contrast, the regional core gained 85,284 persons per year, an annual increase more than double that of the suburban ring. And the core accounted for the great majority (69.3 percent) of the region’s total population growth—the suburban ring just 30.7 percent. This is unparalleled in postwar annals.
– The regional core is now the locomotive of the region’s demographic train. Brooklyn was the unquestioned growth leader in the post-2010 period; its total population increase of 82,426 people between 2010 and 2013 is a startling turnaround from its 1950–1980 performance, when it shed more than one-half million people.
– In the suburban ring, the highest growth totals were achieved by three inlying counties adjacent or close to the regional core: Bergen (New Jersey), Westchester (New York), and Fairfield (Connecticut). However, there were 12 suburban counties —out of a total of 27 suburban counties— that lost population between 2010 and 2013. Thus, over 44 percent of the counties in the suburban ring experienced demographic contraction.
– All of the population-losing counties, with the exception of Monmouth County in New Jersey, were located on the metropolitan outer rim (highlighted in table 1 and figure 2): Litchfield and New Haven in Connecticut; Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster in New York; Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren in New Jersey; and Monroe and Pike in Pennsylvania. These counties, the demographic leaders of the second half of the twentieth century, have experienced a dramatic reversal of population dynamics.
– The extraordinary suburban population gains through 1980 provided the labor resources that underpinned the massive wave of postindustrial suburban office growth in the 1980s and 1990s. The new regional core population gains parallel new patterns of centralized job growth and may dictate a much more centralized economic geography in the future.
– Part of the new urban dynamic is being driven by young adults. The baby boom generation swelled the ranks of young adults (20 to 29 years of age) in the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1980, the suburban ring accounted for virtually all of the growth (96.0 percent) in this age sector.
– The pattern was strikingly different in the 2000–2010 period when echo boomers/millennials filled the 20- to 29-year-old sector. During this time the regional core almost gained parity with the suburban ring. The suburban ring’s share of total young-adult growth during the decade fell to 56.0 percent while that of the regional core increased to 44.0 percent.
… The post-2010 period has been characterized by significant changes in many of the dynamics that formerly propelled massive regional suburbanization. Major gains in public safety and fiscal stability in New York City removed a crucial impetus to suburbanize. Changes in the structural composition of the national and regional economies accelerated during and after the Great Recession of 2007–2009, significantly changing workplace geography. New demographics began to reshape the workforce, workplace preferences, and housing markets. The baby boom, the most suburban-centric generation in history, now confronts retirement and represents the workforce of the past—and the suburban values spawned in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. In their stead, the baby boomers’ children—echo boomers/millennials—are rapidly becoming today’s critical workforce dynamic. Now in their twenties and early thirties, they are a tech-savvy collaborative generation wanting to live in higher-density, nonsuburban activity environments and do not, in general, find suburban employment and one-dimensional insular office campuses particularly attractive. The most talented and highly skilled of these are now known as the digerati—and because of their labor market skills, they have even stronger work, location, and lifestyle preferences and impacts.
Profound advances in information technology, particularly mobile information technology, and the forces of globalization have fundamentally altered the nature of knowledge-based work and its underlying business models. Already, this technology is providing ubiquitous connectivity, unshackling and untethering workers from fixed-in-place information technology systems. …
Corporate America too has been transformed, with a new corporate urbanism supplanting the once obsessive desire for insulated and isolated suburban office campuses. New locational preferences centered on a different set of social and physical attributes have gained momentum. At the same time, the once glittering, spanking-new, leading-edge suburban office agglomerations of the 1980s are aging and, in many cases, have become obsolete.
The Context of the Report
In 1954, a landmark article, “The Tidal Wave of Metropolitan Expansion,” was published in the Journal of the American Institute of Planners by Hans Blumenfeld… It accurately forecast the pattern of large and rapid metropolitan growth for the balance of the twentieth century—an ever-expanding metropolitan periphery, with an unrelenting suburban development wave pushing further outward from the historic city center. This certainly depicted the secular post–World War II pattern of population growth in the 35-county, four-state region surrounding New York City. Demographic tidal waves swept westward (and southward) through New Jersey and crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania; flowed eastward across Long Island; and also moved northward, deeper into New York State and into Connecticut. But now, after more than a half-century, these waves appear to be receding.
The Big Picture: The Startling Reversal of Fortune
… In 1950, the core’s population (9.8 million people) was over 70 percent greater than the suburban ring’s (5.7 million people). By 1980, the suburban ring’s 11.0 million people was over 20 percent greater than the core’s 9.0 million people.
…a dramatic slowing of suburban population growth, population shrinkage on the outer metropolitan perimeter, and strong urban resurgence. …
… Between 1950 and 1980, the suburban ring’s rate of population increase (+93.8 percent) was nearly double that (+49.7 percent) of the United States. Between 2010 and 2013, the suburban’s ring’s growth (+0.9 percent) was less than half that (+2.2 percent) of the nation.
The Scale of Past Urban Decline
… Between 1950 and 1980 (table 1), New York (Manhattan) lost 531,816 persons (-27.1 percent), Kings (Brooklyn) lost 507,239 persons (-18.5 percent), and the Bronx lost 282,305 persons (-19.5 percent). The three counties combined had an aggregate population decline of over 1.3 million people, a total greater than the loss of the overall core (-859,660 persons). It was the city’s own outer periphery that escaped this widespread decline. The boroughs of Queens, which gained 340,476 persons (+22.0 percent), and Richmond (Staten Island), which gained 160,566 persons (+83.8 percent), experienced suburban-like population growth during this period. …
The New Growth Frontier
… For the first time, the core dominated. It accounted for 69.3 percent (255,853 persons) of this growth; the suburban ring, just 30.7 percent (113,227 persons). The regional core is now the growth locomotive of the region’s demographic train; the suburban ring is the caboose. …
Brooklyn was the unquestioned growth leader in the post-2010 period; its population increased by 82,426 people between 2010 and 2013. Brooklyn’s current performance is also illustrated by a comparison to the 1950–1980 period, when it shed more than one-half million people. In the suburban ring, the highest growth totals post-2010 were achieved by the inlying counties of Fairfield in Connecticut (+21,090 persons), Bergen in New Jersey (+18,731 persons), and Westchester in New York (+18,126 persons). However, the growth of all three combined (+57,947 persons) falls far below that of Brooklyn. …
… fully 44.4 percent of the counties in the suburban ring experienced population declines. With the exception of Monmouth County in New Jersey — which was suffering the harsh aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy — all of the counties that lost population were on the metropolitan edge …
Monroe and Pike Counties in Pennsylvania in particular are noteworthy. They are located immediately west of Warren and Sussex Counties in New Jersey, just across the Delaware River. In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, they were the fastest-growing counties in the region (appendix table A-3). For example, between 1990 and 2000, the population of the suburban ring grew by 8.6 percent. In sharp contrast, Pike’s population grew by 65.6 percent and Monroe’s by 44.9 percent. But between 2010 and 2013, both Monroe (-1.7 percent) and Pike (-1.3 percent) Counties experienced population declines.
The Potency of Young Adults TABLE 1, 2
… The first comprises maturing “60-somethings,” who are aging baby boomers now pursuing empty-nester lifestyles, trying to adapt to cutting-edge technologies, confronting their exit from the labor force, and facing retirement. The second comprises “20-somethings” and young “30-somethings.” These are echo boomers or millennials who are driving a resurgent entry-level rental housing market, new lifestyle preferences, and new workplace protocols and values. …
… Between 1970 and 1980, the four-state region added 378,755 “20-somethings.” Virtually all of the growth in such baby boom young adults took place in the suburban ring (363,595 persons), or 96.0 percent. The regional core added only 15,160 persons in this age bracket, or 4.0 percent. There would actually have been a shrinkage in young adults in the core if not for growth in Queens (+18,084 persons) and Richmond (+13,573 persons), which contain some of the more “suburban-type” areas of the core. The generation born and reared in the suburbs largely settled there as young household-forming adults. And in the two decades that followed (1980–2000), the suburbs dominated the region’s economic-growth ledgers.
… The suburban ring’s share of total regional growth during the decade fell to 56.0 percent (137,348 persons out of 245,220 persons), while that of the regional core increased to 44.0 percent (107,872 persons out of 245,220 persons). …
…both time frames represent two fundamentally different eras—unbridled suburbanization/urban decline versus recentralization/perimeter contraction—then a transformative regional change may be under way that is only just now beginning to reveal itself. The 2010–2013 period suggests that for the first time in the post–World War II era the tidal wave of metropolitan expansion has begun to ebb, with the regional core outperforming the suburban ring.
… the relentless demography of baby boom and baby boom-echo generations, rapid and sweeping technology changes, favorable quality-of-life improvements in the region’s urban core, and new cultural and locational preferences of millennials. …
Alternatively, Americans’ stubborn love affair with large vehicles, cheap gas, and free roads is still a powerful force working to maintain population dispersal. It seems to be impervious to repeated oil crises, $4-per-gallon gas (perhaps because $4 gas seems never to stick around long), and the possibility of higher energy costs in the long run for both transportation and residential heating. Also, although the powerful desire for homeownership may have been deeply dented by the Great Recession, it may recover and dominate housing markets once again.