A new report from the Center for an Urban Future (whose previous report, "Attack of the Chains," sparked a bidding war between Fox and Warner Bros.) confirms the obvious: the so-called middle class can no longer afford to live in New York and are relocating in large numbers to the exburbs or far-flung cities like Houston, where $50,000 a year gets you the same standard of living as a $123,322 salary does in Manhattan. Don't scoff; Space City has theater, opera, ballet, air-conditioned skywalks, a Holocaust Museum—even a lively local weblog, just like the one you enjoy here!
But if you're really determined to make a go of it here in New York, this report [PDF] is as sobering as it is unsurprising. Focusing on data primarily gathered before the economic deathspin went "full Bale," the study contends it's not just Manhattan that's cost-prohibitive to your average working stiff, but the boroughs as well: Queens is the fifth most expensive urban area in the U.S! Perhaps that's why twice as many New Yorkers relocated to Philadelphia ("the sixth borough!") in 2006 than in 2000. Or maybe they were just following orders from the Times Style section.
In all, 151,441 residents left the city in 2006, a 7% increase over 2002. (The overall population increased due to births and immigration.) And it's not just working class families; the number of New Yorkers with bachelor’s degrees who left the city rose to 29,370 in 2006, up 127% from a year earlier. The report says the problem is that while everything costs significantly more in NYC—home heating costs, for instance, have risen 125% in the past five years and are up 243% since 1998—wages have remained stagnant, even while Wall Street business was booming.
But Joe Salvo, director of the NYC Department of Planning’s population division, tells Crain's the study looked at too narrow a time period and didn't consider the people moving to New York. And speaking to reporters yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg seemed to shrug off the report, noting, "There is turnover all the time. That’s very healthy. We're doing fine." Then, perhaps realizing how that might sound coming from a gazillionaire, he added, "But it is very worrisome, the number of people who are losing their jobs."