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October 7, 2014

New residents of the greater four-state New York metropolitan region (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania) are choosing to live in urban centers rather than suburbia, according to a Rutgers report from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

Since 2010, the urban core gained 85,284 new residents (69 percent), while suburban towns gained only 37,742. This is directly the opposite of what occurred in the post-World War II years since 1950.

Brooklyn has been the unquestioned growth leader, but in New Jersey, Bergen County has gained the most population with 18,731. Other population gains were, in order of size, Hudson, Middlesex, Union, Morris, Somerset, Ocean, Essex, Passaic, and Mercer.

Out of 27 surburban counties in the region, 12 lost population. With the exception of Monmouth, which the report’s authors, Rutgers professors James W. Hughes and Joseph Seneca, believe was impacted by Sandy, all were in the outer ring of suburbs. In New Jersey, those counties losing population were Monmouth, Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren.

The population shift is being led by young adults.

Hughes and Seneca admit in the report that three years of data should not be equivalently compared to a 30-year span of a postwar economy. However, they cite the job opportunities available in the inner core, the preference of foreign-born populations for these regions, and the high costs of commuting and maintaining single-family homes as contributing factors to what may be a long-term trend.

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