Millennials Making Their Mark On City
There’s no doubt that Millennials are everywhere in Philadelphia. More than just populating our high-end coffee shops though, this age group is reshaping the very nature of our city.
In its recent report “Millennials in Philadelphia: A Promising But Fragile Boom“, Pew Charitable Trust has found that Millennials (defined in their study as people between the ages of 20 and 34) are Philadelphia’s fastest growing age group, expanding by 20% from 2000 to 2012. This is the strongest growth rate for any major U.S. city and far out paces Millennial hubs like Austin, San Francisco or Portland.
While this population boom has effected many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, Pew confirms that the areas immediately surrounding Center City, with their central location and lower rents, have experienced the greatest Millennial-driven population expansion. It’s no wonder then that these communities have also experienced strong redevelopment, as density and improved quality of life usually go hand in hand.
From a broader perspective though, Millennials are also key to Philadelphia’s economic future.Pew finds that 37.4% of Millennials hold a bachelors degree compared to the city average of 23.4%; this well-educated group then offers the raw talent that the city’s growing post-industrial economy needs to prosper.
Much of Pew’s report however have been met with mixed reviews. Philly.com for instance takes a negative view of Pew’s conclusions, focusing on the study’s findings that half of all Millennials surveyed plan on leaving Philadelphia in the next 5 to 10 years, many citing lack of professional opportunity, bad schools and safety issues. Neither the study nor its critique however compare Philadelphia’s rate in this regard to other cities; Millennials may be just as eager to leave New York or Los Angeles. As our least static age group, one wonders if this finding is the result of the city’s problems, the mobility of youth or a mix of factors.
Like any major demographic change, the growth of Millennials here will take time to reach its full effect. But with their passion for vibrant urban communities, chances are Philadelphia’s Millennial revolution will yield bold and positive results.
Opening illustration courtesy of Thomas Pitilli and The Philadelphia City Paper.