Montgomery needs to retain young residents
MoCo planning director Rollin Stanley recently posted a video with some findings his staff made in the 2010 Census. To be honest, it doesn't look good for Montgomery County: closing businesses, high housing prices, and an aging population.
What I found most striking was the drop in the county's young adult population. According to the Planning Department, Montgomery County has 15% fewer adults between the ages of 15 and 24 than we did in 2000. There are 17% fewer 25-to-34 year olds, along with 20% fewer 35-to-44 year olds.
The first two age groups belong to the Millennials (or Echo Boomers or Generation Y, whichever you prefer). As I've said before, we're now the largest generation in American history, due to being the kids of the Baby Boomers, America's previous largest generation. Yet their ranks in MoCo have swelled over the past 10 years, while my cohort has shrunk.
Why is this?
Some readers didn't agree with my post last June about my newlywed friends who grew up in Montgomery County, then moved elsewhere in the region. A lot of people didn't like my post last week about the difficulty of finding housing in MoCo for Millennials, which now has over 200 comments. But these are connected. Montgomery County is an expensive place to live, and some of us (like my friends) have found that neighboring communities have more jobs, cheaper housing, and more stuff to do.
This is a problem. Montgomery County thrived because of the Baby Boomers, who found life so good here that they never left. (A few of them, it seems, like it a little too much.) But if 30% of the county's population is over 65, as the Planning Department estimates will happen by 2030, we're not going to be able to manage. If we want the county to continue prospering, we have to draw young people.
"What" draws young people is pretty simple: Jobs, reasonably priced housing, short commutes, proximity to shopping and entertainment, and increasingly, neighborhoods where you can walk/bike/take transit instead of driving.
The "how" is more challenging. But we should start going after those solutions now rather than waiting until it's too late.
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