Where are all the Young People?

By Gregory Conley:
One of the common things you hear from people is the phrase, “The young people are moving away.” If our metro is so much like a repelling magnet, where are the young people seeking refuge locally?

Buffalo, of course.

To find the accompanying data, I used the Census Bureau’s Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000 and the Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010. The first chart shows the median age of each county subdivision as listed by the Census. This means that there are not any villages listed below, but purely towns and cities.

As you can see, Buffalo (highlighted in purple in the righthand chart) is the only subdivision to become younger. A fair argument would be that -0.4 years is not very much. You could argue that Buffalo might not look like it is getting that much younger at all. Many of the places bordering Buffalo are under three percent, such as Amherst, Tonawanda (Town), Cheektowaga, and Lackawanna.

But wait a second, what’s the median age in Buffalo again, compared to the rest of the county?

Oh yea, 33.2 years old. Who’s close? – No one.


Organized 2010 Median Age.jpg

Organized Change in Median Age for Erie County Subdivisons.jpg

To the left is an organized chart of median age from youngest to oldest, featuring Buffalo on top.






The City is far and away the youngest by almost 7 years to Lackawanna, a statistically distant 2nd. 

I think there is also some evidence as to what is happening out in more rural areas of the county as well, in terms of median age. However, I won’t go into that here.


Even after all of this data, there is a question still lingering…




How is Buffalo getting younger?

Using the same source for the median age, the Census also provides age splits of number and percentage within the population. Combining the two data sets together, you can see the change in number over the past decennial Census. Please note that these are actual numbers, so the overall totals show a population decrease between the decades.

stats-2-youth-Buffalo-NY.jpg

Here, we see that the largest gain is in the 55 to 59 years old age bracket! (Who thought that? I sure didn’t.) Second are the 20 to 24 year olds. Many of these youngsters could be called Millennials, which is the largest age demographic nationally since the Baby Boomers.

I should also point out that we see Buffalo has less children, 25 to 44 year olds, and 65 and over. This could be for a variety of reasons, but ones that you might not think. The trend of the decrease in those same age groups is actually county-wide.

If we take data from a previous article, we see that in nearly the same time span Buffalo has become wealthier and smarter. Along with the 45 to 64 year old age group, the college aged and young professional Millenials are helping to contribute to a wealthier and smarter City. Some may argue the entirety of the data is not significant, but I do think it is positive and consistent.

To answer the original question of this article, I guess the “young people” are alive and well in Buffalo. They’re a smart bunch. And, they might get their coffee from Caffe Aroma, secretly fulfill their guilty pleasure of carrot cake from Romeo and Julliet’s, or check for the latest additions to the craft beer menus at a variety of bars and restaurants.

Granted, while not everyone wants to stick around for the fun, there’s still a good time to be had!

Wait, What about other cities?

Great question! I did check other major cities in New York State, as well as the Rust Belt. Buffalo fell right in the pack with other cities. New York as a whole is getting younger quite rapidly except for New York City, which is already young as a City and Metro (~35 years old for both). In the end for most cities, there was a strong correlation between metro age (older) to city proper age (younger).  The reason why I did not display this data was due to the lack of 2000 metropolitan data. I could not find consistent geographies for 2000 and 2010. There was only 2005 to 2010 data. I would like to see if there are correlations of population loss within age splits for metro areas.

Gregory Conley is a graduate of the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education in English as a Second Language Education, M.Ed. His interests include expanding equality to access in education, learning about the ethnic histories of Buffalo, and urban planning.


About the author  ⁄ buffalorising

70 comments
Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Good points on living frugal, Buffalo and especially Black Rock allow a person of average means to live quite well. The rat race that so many find themselves caught up in is due to discontent and the chase of materialistic pursuits. Being a little more humble and recognizing the limits of consumerism is a great advantage, not just to enjoy life but also having the time and energy to appreciate it.

moonqueen
moonqueen

Most of the statistics I have seen lately, from various sources, indicate the population decline has slowed significantly the last few years and some even state it has started to plateau out. We are a big college town, a big party town, and that draws young folks for sure, but we are also a place with thriving art, music, and culinary scenes where it isn’t unreasonably expensive to get your first place, or start a family (or a business). That brings in, and keeps, a lot of post-college folks. Generally speaking, if you are at all intelligent or hardworking and flexible in what you are willing to do you can find a job (or jobs, as I have done in the past) and make more than enough to be comfortable – I’ve rented comfortably in the heart of Elmwood Village, partied and had a car on an $11 an hour job because I’m wise with my spending and frugal when need be. I get people see having to save or buy used or go without every little thing they want as a hardship, but where I’m from that is just the norm – you keep your tv ‘til it stops working before you upgrade to a flat screen, you fix your car when it breaks instead of getting a new one, etc.

I moved here from a significantly more economically depressed locale in the southern tier for college and had no intention of going back – for the most part I have not been disappointed. There is ZERO to do in that area and most women’s “careers” are getting pregnant at like 18 and either getting married or living off social services. People who complain about poverty and welfare here should spend a few weeks in Addison, Cameron, Bath, etc and see what it is really like for a young person to have no future, to live in squalor out in the middle of nowhere. Even the poorest of kids in Buffalo at least has an opportunity to find SOME employment, access to stuff to do, close proximity to many colleges (with public transport or walking/biking) if they get scholarships or can work their way through, etc. I may not have “The Job” but I have a good one, its full time, pays well enough for me to own what I need (and even some I want) and actually has benefits and paid time off. On top of that it is just as cheap to live here as where I come from, with limited exceptions. Where I’m from I would be working at a gas station part time, living with relatives, eeking my way by with zero to do on the weekends but drink beer at someone’s house.

Also...

"You can buy a house you can live in for $5000"

WHERE in Buffalo? Where can you buy a LIVABLE house for $5000? I live in Black Rock, not exactly known for high real estate values, and the cheapest house I've ever seen was over $20k, and it needed significant work. My house was over $50k as were several of my neighbors. Now, I know this is below the national average, but when you consider some very desirable neighborhoods in B-lo still have houses that are only double that it isn't nearly the discrepancy in values you are insinuating. I agree we shouldn't white wash the positives but you shouldn't exaggerate the negatives either.

Billo
Billo

That's because people are moving to the south and southwest, from the midwest and to some extent the northeast. I'm not sure it's fair to use the red vs. blue state comparison though. Sure Texas is still a red state, but is North Carolina? What about Virgina, New Mexico, Nevada or Florida? Those states are all gaining at a relatively faster rate and I don't consider them to be either red or blue. A true blue state is like New York or California, a true red state is Oklahoma, West Virginia, or Mississippi - I don't think any of those states are gaining population in an abnormal way.

whatever
whatever

But Greg, isn't this from you again false about median income 2000-'10 inflation-adjusted?

greg>"it out performed the nation big time in that same span"

Didn't my previous comment show the opposite - Buffalo under performing the nation in that same time span? Dropping 3.3% here while nationally it dropped 2.4%?

It's in your previous article, linked in my comment above.

I'll paste it here for convenience -

http://www.buffalorising.com/2012/06/buffalo-a-smarter-wealthier-city.html#comment-123703

whatever>"Greg, ok even if we ignore before 1999/2000 and also compare to state & national, what I'm still wondering is about the claim of Buffalo being "wealthier" when median household income dropped here more than in NY state and U.S. through 2010.

Wealthier than what, when, compared to who?

(if you said that already somewhere, I'm overlooking it)

Didn't Buffalo/city median income drop by 3.3% from 2000-2010 (27,827 to 26,907 using consistent 2005 $), while nationally it dropped less (2.4%) and statewide rose slightly (1.2%)?

Buffalo median household income (inflation-adjust to 2005 $)

2000: $27,827 (convert from $24,536)

2010: $26,907 (conv from $30,043), down 3.3%

and for NY state & national (also from census & converted to 2005 $)

NYS 2000: $49,214 (conv from $43,393)

NYS 2010: $49,800 (conv from $55,603), up 1.2%

U.S. 2000: $47,627 (conv from $41,994)

U.S. 2010: $46,496 (conv from $51,914), down 2.4%

I used 2005 as a $ reference since that first site I linked before did, but percents should be same no matter which year used in http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

sources for 2000/1999

income NYS & U.S., pg 3 of http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/NYS_stats.pdf

income Buffalo http://www.city-data.com/city/Buffalo-New-York.html

If that site you used lets a different time frame be used which shows Buffalo's income rising and doing better than NYS and the U.S. over some set of years in consistent $, I'm just wondering which years those are? Not saying it's impossible, just don't see which years you're saying it happened for - if that's what you're saying."

? So, are you talking about different years when you claim Buffalo "out performed the nation big time"?

Which years?

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

I wouldn't call it a hot city...you've got to have a great reputation to be a hot city..if theres one thing Buffalo DOES not have is a great reputation. As stated above..theres a long way to go with some of the core issues and an even longer way to go in the marketing sector.

2 things...the environment. If offers whats not possible/available in the suburbs and those critical elements of "successful" cities. Walkability, mixed use districts, entertainment, quality public spaces etc. What attracts the young to other cities..(belive it or not) is available here.

2ndly its cheap...you can afford to buy. If youre lucky enough to find a decent job you pretty much have your pick of the litter. Theres a pretty solid sense of community..I rent and I know neighbors from other buildings. Growing up in the suburbs was a different story..its definately a much more welcoming environment.

urbanboarder
urbanboarder

Here is an interesting statistic from a Washington Post placing Buffalo at #36 in the nation ranked by the estimated annual net migration of people age 25-34. The 2008-10 numbers were recently released..

Buffalo had +1,732 net migrants from 2005-2007, which slipped slightly by -438 from 2008-2010..however we are still ahead of other seemingly "booming" metro's..

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/migration-to-metros/

Tim
Tim

I don't know why people are down voting you. If you look at a map of of what states are losing and gaining jobs and people, it's amazing. Almost every blue state is losing, and almost every red state is gaining. Down vote me all you want, but that's a fact.

Greg
Greg

I really don't liketo cherry-pick stats because I think it weakens any sort of narration to data.

Being asked previously about inflation, it should be noted that although Buffalo might be dropping with adjusted inflation, it out performed the nation big time in that same span. So to ask about cherry picking data is kind of ironic because you mention Buffalo alone and not try to compare it to other cities relative cities, or nationally.

I would write and acknowledge negative data, but I have been purposely looking at traditionally bad data and rumors, and disproving the severity. And I think my points hold water.

As for sexy.. I think we've got some work to do haha

YesSir
YesSir

Don't take offense, big boy. I was just looking for a discount on motorcycle safety training. i know the courses run $350.

I was wondering if you had any pull down there and I could just give you my house and $150 and you could get me in one of the courses?

whatever
whatever

Greg, just wondering - if a lower median age proves Buffalo is getting younger, how is it your previous article concluded it's getting "wealthier" despite its inflation-adjusted median household income dropping, even relative to that same stat for NY state and the U.S. nationally (2000-2010)?

Very selective use of medians?

To be clear, I'm not saying Buffalo is a dump at all. But is what you've been doing you starting with an end of what you want to conclude in a positive way (wealthier, smarter, now younger - next maybe sexier?)… and then hunting for a stat to prove it.

If you looked at some stat and found a negative result for Buffalo, would you write an article about it or just move on to the next stat idea?

Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with promoting a city that way, of course… just curious if that's your intended approach?

whatever
whatever

Prodigal, maybe in the 0-18 bracket, Buffalo is aiming for quality not quantity. Perhaps the next article in this series will identify a stat which sort of proves it's succeeding as long as we interpret it in just the perfect way - as some tables will show us.

Billo
Billo

You made a point about why people would choose to live in the city of Buffalo (it's cheap) and I refuted it. I'm not trying to compare Buffalo to Houston. Houston is a huge city with millions of people, if you want to say Houston is a better place to live then Buffalo, good for you.

You cite a couple references about population growth in Houston and decline in Buffalo, well no one is talking about overall population trends. Everyone already knows that people are moving south - nothing new there. Furthermore, nowhere in the article does it say that the city of Buffalo is "Booming," all you are doing is making red herring arguments unrelated to the article, most of which are fairly boring and outdated.

JamesDeen
JamesDeen

Agreed. Outside of people moving back here for different reasons it is very rare to see anyone from outside the area come here. When you do get someone from another state they are amazed at how every native continues to always ask them, "what the hell are you doing in Buffalo?". Hardly the makings of a hot city.

YesSir
YesSir

Dr.

Does D.D.S. mean you work for the Department of Driver Services?

ladyinwhite
ladyinwhite

No, really. Where does it say it's a hot city once again other than on BRO? If it is "Hot" people would be moving here faster than those exiting.

Jefferson Humboldt
Jefferson Humboldt

Without being too specific, we live between Jefferson Ave and Humboldt Pkwy. We have several friends throughout the West Side who bought the houses they live in for under $5,000 (one was for $100), and one friend bought a place in the Lower East Side for $600.

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

Hmmmmm....Interesting. I suspect that you're not living on my street (or in my neighborhood). Care to give me the name of your street? $2,000?!? Xanadu----Home of Charles Foster Kane!

LouisTully
LouisTully

I joked about it last time, but this happening again deserves derision. Click submit once. Your comments are hardly worth seeing once; a second time is vomit-worthy.

LouisTully
LouisTully

"Kids from the suburbs dont want to take a $70 cab home from the bars DT "

So you're equating what with where an individual's parents choose to live?

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

If you have to ask, then you don't deserve to know.

Rand503
Rand503

People tend to forget that you don't need a teaching certificate to teach at a private school, but you do at a public school.

Private does not automatically mean better. I know it's drummed into kids at private school that B there equals an A at a public school, but that simply isn't the case.

One of my best friends teaches piano in the suburbs, and about one-third of his studio are students at private schools and the rest go to public. He says it's pretty clear that the best students are the public school kids because nothing is handed to them, they know how to work, and they actually practice.

Rand503
Rand503

Although I understand your plight, I don't get why you wouldn't want to send your kids to a public school. Clarence, Amherst, Williamsville and Orchard Park always rank tops in the state and fare very well nationally.

They, in fact, place better than most private schools.

BPS_Rising
BPS_Rising

I know I am not the only 30-something parent who intentionally lives in Buffalo so that my child can enter a public school this fall. The schools are what you make of them, and I think they have a lot to offer if you take the risk and see the potential. We have beautiful, newly renovated school facilities, unique magnet programs, dedicated teachers, a core of community members working to improve the district, history, high funding levels, and an organization coming to town that will offer college scholarships to all of our graduates. When Steve Sample became President at UB, he went around campus when he started, talking to people, getting their impressions of the school. He was shocked to learn that nearly everyone, from students to faculty to staff held UB in low of esteem, thought poorly of the school, had bad morale, and saw it as a of last resort. He saw a strong university with numerous positive indicators and couldn't understand the disconnect there that he was experiencing. I think the same is true around the public schools in Buffalo - we've created this idea that we as a community are perpetuating that the schools are terrible and failing, and that sending a child to any school but City Honors or the like will result in poor future prospects for children. I challenge us as a community to break with that story, and create a new one, realizing all the positive things happening in our schools, taking the risk to send out kids to them, and working to improve them.

Jefferson Humboldt
Jefferson Humboldt

A house you can live in for $5,000?!?

What sort of house is this?

My partner and I paid $2,000 for our house, and we live in it. What sort of house? It's a 3 bed 2 bath single, about 1,450 sqft with a huge yard, 10-year-old roof and newer furnace.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Fair enough. Just trying to provoke discussion, no eye-pokes intended. I agree with your assessments. Just trying to see alternate perspectives.

Tom
Tom

great points

Wolffman
Wolffman

It's about finding a job, not about how much there is to do. There are plenty of things to do in Buffalo. I don't live there because I wouldn't be able to find as good of a job to establish my career.

TranspoGuy
TranspoGuy

Yeah, but if you move to Houston....well then you have to live in Houston.

LBbflo
LBbflo

I was hoping a young professional was finally going to chime in and defend the population that is being discussed in the article! We all know that 89% of statistics are crap, right? For all of you Debbie Downers out there, try actually talking to the population you're referring to.

I grew up in Orchard Park and am now living in Allentown and have a very well paying job at a local architecture firm. 8/10 of my close friends from the UB Engineering school stayed in the area and were able to find jobs in their field. 5 of them moved to the city from the suburbs. The remaining 2 that left the area to pursue dreams that Buffalo cannot and will never offer are returning to Buffalo within the year by choice, not because they have to.

Does Buffalo have problems, of course, you'd be blind not to see them. But you'd also be blind not to see the excitement surrounding the little bits of hope that trigger a resurgence. Maybe I'm just blindly devoted to my city. But for too long Buffalo's own citizens have whined about population decline and bad schools and corrupt politicians. I think it's time to be an advocate for our underrated city and do something about it.

thiggi
thiggi

I think that your unit of analysis obscures the comparison. Here, I've grouped your data into larger age ranges:

Range 2000 2010 delta

00-19_____28%___27%___-16%

20-24______8%___10%____+8%

25-44_____28%___26%___-20%

45-64_____19%___25%___+13%

65+_______16%___11%___-40%

Total_____303k___261k___-14%

This reveals four trends to my eye:

1) Adults(25-44) with children (0-19) have fled the city faster than most other groups. Presumably, this is due to schools (for those who move to the suburbs) and jobs (for those who move to other cities).

2) Young adults (20-24) have been increasing in population, presumably because of college attendance and the hipness of revitalized areas like Elmwood.

3) Middle aged adults (45-64) may be moving to the city after the kids leave home. Perhaps they are looking to "downsize," or can just finally enjoy the city now that they aren't worried about schools. Or, this may just the baby boomers aging in place.

4) Senior citizens' retirement homes must be relocating to the suburbs.

To really perform this analysis, we would need to look at who has moved in and out of the city, and whether they were going to/from the suburbs or to/from other metro areas.

tjhorner1
tjhorner1

I'm 37. My fiance is 31. I grew up in the Southtowns, and my fiance, in Northeastern Ohio. In April, we moved NORTH, to Buffalo, from North Carolina, and are buying a house in the City of Buffalo. We both have advanced degrees, and professional careers. We're not alone, as we have met many of our neighbors who are in the same boat, demographically, and new to the City of Buffalo, from all over the country. Some, are repats, while others, newcomers, altogether.

After living in Charlotte, and Chicago, we chose to live in Buffalo, because, it is a great city, and both of us were genuinely attracted to it. This city has so much to offer already, along with even more potential - much of which is now beginning to be realized.

It always seems that people who have never left Western New York, are the most negative and critical, while the people who have left, only to return, are the most appreciative of all we have here.

This article is a positive...amazing to see people rip out the silver lining. Take a drive through town, there are young professionals, living and enjoying the city everywhere, whether it be Elmwood, Hertel, or the waterfront. 2 hour wait at Liberty Hound this week, on a weekday, and it wasn't a geriatric crowd at all!

I guess you never know the grass isn't greener on the other side, until you've actually seen the other side.

No_Illusions
No_Illusions

Yeah, but most of those jobs are low paying. Why would anyone with a degree want to stick around and work retail?

The problem with Buffalo's job market isn't quantity, its diversity. There are only a handful of large sectors where jobs are plentiful, all the other ones can only be found sparingly.

But you are correct. Unemployment amongst young adults is indeed high all across the country. So might as well work at the Gap and live cheaply.

5to81ALLDAY
5to81ALLDAY

I didn't mention the kids who went to school in Buffalo for several reasons. Where you go to college is where you want to be because your friends are there and you go to your favorite places. Ever go back to college 3-5 years later and its just not the same? Thats because your great times spent there were a reflection with the people you are hanging out with.

sabres77
sabres77

I live in Chicago. 240 killed so far this year, up 38% from last year. Beautiful city but basically a warzone for gangs it's unreal. The fact that when I'm walking I need to continously look behind me is a big problem.

Where are all the Young People, how about Where are all the Jobs?

No_Illusions
No_Illusions

What about all the college kids who come to Buffalo to study though.

Half of UB's student comes from outside the region.

Buff State and Canisius also attracts a fair amount.

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

A house you can live in for $5,000?!? What sort of house is this? My roof just cost me $18,000! Remember that guy that lived in a hole in North Buffalo? He paid more than $5,000 for his digs.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Anecdotally, I am encouraged by a) how many young people I meet around Buffalo currently b) how many of them are newpats and have no previous connection to Buffalo--it's become a "hot city" to be in (and is affordable) and c) want to stay here. The change is palpable and definitely a new phenomenon for the area.

Are more, better jobs needed? Absolutely.

TranspoGuy
TranspoGuy

LouisTully - I attended Frank A Sedita on the west side for some time, then PS70 in South Buffalo through 8th grade(now closed, very under-performing school) and then Hutch Tech for high school.

You are probably correct in your assumption of Child A going to City Honors is going to do better than if that same child went to say South Park or Riverside (or an under-performing suburban school for that matter). That really wasn't my point, though. I was more pointing to the fact that many parents think that sending their kid to a better school district automatically influences their intelligence, knowledge or college prospects.

There are many factors that influence how we view certain schools. Generally, we use graduation rates and test scores. Does that mean that an attentive student can't learn a lot, get good SAT scores and succeed if they go to Bennett or East? No. The reason the graduation rates at these schools are low isn't because there are bad teachers per se, but because a lot of the students don't care. Simply sending your child to Williamsville East doesn't necessarily mean they are going to get a better education. Educational attainment rates are a function of socio-economic factors as well.

BuffaloEmigrant
BuffaloEmigrant

Theoretically. But it's not like the underperforming schools have nothing but bad teachers. A child not going to City Honors/Hutch Tech/Olmsted/Da Vinci but still works at their education, comes to school every day, and stays out of trouble will be very successful.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Which Buffalo schools did you attend?

All the things you mentioned are huge factors in achieving success, but so is the school. Even with the same parents, wouldn't child A going to City Honors do better than child B going to >insert underachieving city school here

Prodigal Son
Prodigal Son

The key stat that matters, that no one commenting has yet mentioned, is the 0-18 bracket. It is down, big time. In growing places in the south and west, cities are getting younger because there are more children, not because comparatively young baby boomers are moving back. The under 18 crowd is your demographic destiny, and ours is bad.

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