New Jersey’s population shift continues

Great diary rescue from before the weekend  – by josef

In October of last year, NJ.com published an article detailing the “seismic population shift” underway in New Jersey. With census data populating an interactive map, the article detailed the number of people leaving the New York metropolitan region's suburban and rural counties in favor of the state's more urbanized, established ones located closer to the city. In it, Stephen Stirling writes that “New Jersey’s population has started to contract back toward its urban core for the first time since the end of the second World War, new research shows, in what could mark a death knell for suburban sprawl and foretell significant changes to the fabric of the Garden State.” As a new article published yesterday shows, this trend is only accelerating.

In an article published today on MyCentralJersey.com featuring updated census data, Sergio Bichao writes of New Jersey's young people:

What is happening is the 60-year trend of suburbs pushing ever more outward has really stopped,” Hughes said. “For the first time, the (suburban counties) are the ones losing population.”

Hughes chalks that up to “household shrinkage” as younger people leave their parents' suburban homes in Hunterdon County for life in Hoboken or Jersey City. 

“They much would prefer living in what we call LWP — live, work, play — environment,” with walkable neighborhoods instead of long commutes.

“It's really young people who are the ones leaving,” he said.

Media outlets like NJTV and the Asbury Park Press have covered this trend and the consequencies it will have on the state's towns, economy, and competitiveness in the 21st century. And smart growth proponents in the state like NJ Future have documented it for years.

What we need next is for the state legislature to catch up to the reality on the ground. As a millennial who bought a house in an old town in South Jersey, I want to see the state legislature stop working to hurt those living in the states urban centers and inner-ring suburbs. Instead of leaving the state's hardworking commuters out in the cold, I want to see a properly funded transportation network that takes into account mass transit, walking, and biking in addition to roads and bridges, especialy as transit ridership in the state hits highs not seen for decades. I want to see more efforts to foster small businesses in the state's downtowns instead of massive tax breaks going to coroprations to move a few miles down the road.

The trend of people moving back to the state's older towns shows no sign of stopping. Hopfully, the state government will recognize that before too much damage has been done.

Comments (2)

  1. dbkurz415

    A commentary like this is a welcome one. The Legislature, of course, faced with a Republican governor, will never be able to achieve much. But we need to start directing more resources into our cities to help them remain livable, viable and lively. Here’s another idea: bring universal, fast, free WiFi (“wireless internet”) to our towns and cities. New York City is in the process of doing this at nearly no cost to taxpayers.  

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  2. lebleu

    They recognize it, in so far that they are giving away mass amounts of real estate, with tax breaks for developers, for many years, on the backs of the existing taxpayers. There is little creation of affordable rentals, so strangely, you are beginning to see more diversity shifting to the burbs. All of the towns further out from JC and Hudson River addresses, are being saturated with luxury rentals, and they are not always at capacity. But more and more are planned. There are, however, no concrete plans for addressing any mass transit projects to accommodate the influx, and so you end up with small older towns with a ton of cars, and existing taxpayers fleeing, before they are brought under through supplementing the developers, and the expected population increase. It’s ass backwards, but the fix is in for the future.  

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