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San Diego's vanishing Generation X


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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    Over the past five years, through the course of recession and subsequent on-going recovery, San Diego’s population continued to grow, but the number of Generation-X’ers (35-49 years old) fell and apparently took their children (<20 years old) with them. This “hollowing out” of 30-40 year olds, likely in part because of high housing prices, lack of better paying employment opportunities, and other affordability options, could have serious implications on the availability of talent and how San Diego’s economy continues to recover, according to a new analysis of census and demographic data by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR).
    In addition, the region saw lower birth rates during the recession and this will remain important for decades to come as fewer children means, for example, a dip in demand for K-12 education as well as scarcity of entry level workers as this cohort ages.
   The analysis also shows that the aging Baby Boom generation is transforming San Diego. As this large cohort continues to grow older, it will profoundly alter the kinds of goods and services in demand in the region. For example, demography alone will mean that in the coming decades the demand for healthcare and communities that are less auto dependent will increase.
    “Overall, the numbers suggest an important change going on in San Diego,” says Kelly Cunningham, National University System Institute for Policy Research economist. “Instead of a magnet for people moving here for economic reasons as in the past, San Diego is exporting mid-level age ranges and their families to other areas. Young adults may still flock here for educational and entry level work opportunities, but find they are not able to afford suitable housing to raise their families as they grow older and therefore move elsewhere. Meanwhile, the large bulge of Baby Boomers and older populations continues to grow older as their numbers slowly dwindle.”
   The report also looked at changes in ethnic and racial make-up by age of the region, as well as how San Diego’s changing demographics compare to other metro areas such as Austin, Denver, Seattle and the Bay area.
    The National University System Institute for Policy Research report on San Diego’s age dynamics are published in the August 2014 edition of the San Diego Economic Ledger.