As young people and builders have shifted their focus toward trendier urban markets, overall housing construction has declined
New developments rise in Long Island City, N.Y., in May. Housing construction in the urban core of cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles has been stronger than normal. Photo: Richard B. Levine/Zuma Press
The rush of young people to U.S. cities over the past few years is partly to blame for America’s worsening housing shortage.
In some of the country’s largest and most prosperous markets, such as New York, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles, housing construction has been stronger than normal in the urban core but weaker in the suburbs, where new housing can be built abundantly and more cheaply, according to an analysis set to be released Monday by BuildZoom, a website for construction contractors.
That is a problem because suburbs are typically the main drivers of housing construction.
For decades during the late-20th century, suburbs were the place to build, as urban cores suffered from high crime, poor schools and stagnant or shrinking populations.
But preferences have changed among young people, many of whom want to live closer to transit, restaurants and their workplaces. The share of young, educated people living in the urban core of Washington, D.C., for example, increased 8.6 percentage points between 2000 and 2014, according to Jed Kolko, chief economist at job-search site Indeed and senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. Portland, Ore., and Chicago each saw increases of 6.4 percentage points.