Mayor Bloomberg released his sustainability agenda, PlaNYC 2030, two years ago this week.  The assumption driving the PlaNYC initiative was that New York City’s population would grow by one million people by the year 2030.  In the booming economy of 2007, this projection of constant growth seemed reasonable, and visual evidence in the form of new housing development sprung up on nearly every corner.

However, much has changed since 2007.  The foreclosure crisis has hit the city (particularly the outer boroughs), and continuing Wall Street layoffs are wreaking havoc on the city’s tax base.  Construction seems to have come to a near-complete halt, and newly-completed housing sits empty.  Current conditions beg the question, will New York City continue to grow after all?

The Department of City Planning took on this question recently with The Population of New York City: Looking Toward the Future. (This link is the PDF version; for a slideshow with audio click here).  This report outlines population trends in the city over the last 30 years, and concludes that the city’s population will continue to grow despite the recession:

“there is an underlying dynamic that drives New York City’s population, where hundred of thousands of people come and go each decade. Young people and immigrants continue to energize New York, fueling the city’s labor force, creating and frequenting its businesses, and sustaining its neighborhoods.

Recent history shows us that this dynamic changes slowly and is not significantly affected by short-term fluctuations in the economy. In the face of the steep economic decline of the 1970s, or the attacks of September 11, 2001, the underlying momentum in the city’s population has persisted. Even in the face of the current economic downturn, the city’s population dynamic is again likely to persist, and the next wave of newcomers and their children will continue to propel the city’s population upward.”

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