The Collision of the Great Recession and Echo Boomer Demographics Causes Shifts in the Urban Landscape

In early 2010, we forecasted the following, “the previous expansion was based more on financial innovation and housing wealth accumulation, whereas the next expansion may see a second rebirth of technology and other knowledge-based innovations more similar to the 1990s and further exploitation of the globalization.”

The Great Recession caused many Echo Boomers to forestall household formation by doubling up, staying with parents,  living with roommates, staying single, and remaining childless.  Echo boomers saw housing prices fall.  At the same time,  we all witnessed the birth of the social network, information anywhere and anytime, the rise of search, collaborative consumption, and the new power and dominance of mobile technology via tablets and smartphones.  The economy slowly recovers.  Energy and techology has led the way.  Certain Gen Y’s, especially those in knowledge industries, are getting jobs or promotions and starting new households.

The disparity of wealth accelerated between knowledge workers and non-knowledge workers.  Super knowledge regions grew prosperous while other areas floundered.   Contrast San Francisco with Detroit.

The knowledge working Gen Ys now want to stay connected not only electronically but physically.  They have forestalled marriage and children and pursue their social lives.  This trend has manifest in the desire for walkable and amenity rich cities with  plentiful entertainment, bars, restaurants, strolling streets, and cafes. If they can’t have great private spaces in their homes, they want great public spaces offered in certain cities.   Knowledge workers are now flocking not only into cities within these knowledge super regions but into new neighborhood clusters where they can achieve a real “Social Network.”

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