Economy Watch: Northeastern Cities Still Losing Population

"By every metric, the cities that Americans are leaving in the highest numbers are some of the county's largest," a new Abodo report says.

ABODO MSAs-LosingNational apartment listing firm Abodo crunched some Census Bureau numbers recently, and found that many major Northeastern and Midwestern metro areas are losing net population faster than metros in other parts of the country. It’s a 2010s version of earlier demographic shifts that saw people leaving those parts of the country, and will (in the longer run, if it continues) have an impact on the pace of commercial and residential property demand and development.

Between 2014 to 2015, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin MSA topped the list of net population loss, down 0.84 percent. The New York-Newark-Jersey City MSA isn’t far behind, with an overall decrease of 0.82 percent. Considering that the latter MSA has a population of more than 20 million, that means a net of more than 168,000 people left the New York area during the 2014-2015 period. The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford MSA had a net loss of 0.74 percent, and Memphis was down 0.6 percent.

Over the three years from 2012 to 2015, the pattern is similar: New York-Newark-Jersey City (down 2.2 percent) and Chicago (down 2.06 percent) once again lost the most population, followed again by Hartford (down 1.92 percent) and Memphis (down 1.77 percent).

Abodo concludes: “By every metric, the cities Americans are leaving in the highest numbers are some of the country’s largest: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. And yet these cities’ size insulates them somewhat from true net population loss: Americans are also moving to those places.

“The new residents’ numbers might not comprise as high a percentage of the population as other American cities, but that’s a reflection of just how populous some of these metropolitan areas are: It’s harder to make up 3 percent of the population in New York City than it is in, say, Cleveland.”