Millenials and Baltimore’s Downtown Population Surge

CPHA has covered the historic growth of the American Downtown.  Thanks to central city growth, for the first time in fifty years Baltimore is seeing an increase in population.  But just who is fueling that growth?

Comeback City has reported that this can be almost exclusively contributed to millennials, the current generation of 20-somethings.

The information and measurement company “Nielson” notes that there are some 77 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 36, 24% of the American population that fit this category.  The western portion of the country attracts most millennial, with Washington D.C. being an east coast exception.  (This is largely the result of Washington D.C.’s diversifying economy, transient job market, and traditionally recession proof job supply).

Most of Baltimore’s growth has been downtown and around the harbor.  SmartCEO says Baltimore’s Downtown population has grown 395% within one-quarter mile of city hall, 80% within a half-mile, and 5.58% within a one-mile radius, totaling around 5,700 people.  Baltimore has one of the densest downtown’s in the United States, which is a major factor in what millennials tend to be drawn to.  A recent piece in the Detroit Free Press describes how growth and development in places like Harbor East has been fueled by “young professionals.”

Here are some other demographic shifts and stats from Baltimore:

  • The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore’s African-American population is declining
  • Asian and Hispanic populations are on the rise, but at a slower pace than previously.
  • Baltimore Cities Median Age has declined .6 percent.  Most Maryland counties saw an increase, with Maryland overall increasing by two percent.
  • Baltimore’s median age is 34.4.
  • Women make up 52.9 percent of Baltimore City’s population.

Millennials may not stick around.  When the boomers got married and started having kids, those that had the access and opportunity left the high taxes, troubled schools, and crime behind for the suburbs.  As this article about Philadelphia suggests, millennials in other places may follow the same path.

So there are two clear takeaways for Baltimore’s officials:

  1. Just as a city’s growth policy can’t  focus solely on attracting immigrants, it can’t focus solely on attracting millennials.  Current residents in East and West Baltimore (some of the same African-American communities that are leaving) are desperately in need of access and opportunity and, if given such an opportunity, will improve the overall well-being and growth of Baltimore.
  2. Growth of our City is just one more reason to make sure we don’t flounder the great opportunity in our school construction act–an opportunity to anchor communities and keep millennials around when they have children.

In summary, for Baltimore to grow, it can’t just be a revolving-door college town.  We need to grow from all angles: millennials, immigrants, and longtime residents alike.  And all those folks need reasons to come and stay.

2013 US Census numbers are being released this week.  Check back at CPHA soon to see a more nuanced look at last year’s demographic shifts.


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Scott Bort

Scott Bort

This article was written by Scott Bort and edited by Michael Snidal. Click here to meet our writing team.
Scott Bort

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