The population of the Hudson Valley is not going to go up, and if it does, it will not be because of people moving up from NYC.

Published by Joshua Simons on

I know that I promised an article about how the City of Poughkeepsie was going to experience the most transformative change from the current wave of migration from New York City, and that article is coming, but first I wanted to address the notion that this trend is going to drive up the population of the region.

The considerable uptick in affluent households moving to the Hudson Valley from NYC is just one part  of the migration math. Often, substantial in-migrations contribute to overall shrinking populations, or are offset by out-migration so that the population still grows, but at a slower rate than it would absent the newer upper and upper-middle class households. It has to do with the demographics of who is moving here (in-migration), and who is leaving (out-migration).

Historically, the most surefire way to increase the population size of a place is to build new housing and then to fill it. Of course it can be more complicated than that given market forces beyond simple supply and demand driving up housing costs, but for the most part new construction means that more people are living in a place without displacing folks that already live there. In a buyers’ market the supply of new and existing housing is greater than the demand for that housing, and generally the prices are lower. In a sellers’ market the demand for new and existing housing cannot meet the demand, and generally prices go up. In any situation where one household purchases existing housing from another the net population change is going to have a lot more to do with the size of the households involved than it does the number of houses sold.  

So, how does this apply to the current situation? First off, we are decidedly in a seller’s market.

Second, during the COVID-19 lockdown, new housing construction halted and since reopening it has been slow to restart. That means that the vast majority of homes being bought by people moving up from the city are existing homes, and the people that are selling them are likely moving somewhere else. For example, we’ve seen this before in the City of Hudson.

Data Source: 1990, 2000, and 2010 US Census, 2017 US Census American Community Service 3 Year Average.

The City of Hudson’s population shrank from 8,034 people in 1990 to 6,452 in 2017. This was despite (or perhaps even because of) its “revitalization.” As more affluent white people moved into Hudson they displaced existing populations, notably black households, and though economically the difference is night and day, the economic vibrancy of the City of Hudson has not resulted in an increase in population. A large reason for this is that since 1990, the average size of a household has decreased by 10 percent (2.3 in 1990, to 2.06 in 2017). Additionally, the total number of households has decreased by 10 percent (from 3,144 in 1990 to 2,817 in 2017). 

In the past, this has been a common pattern in small cities across the region that have “revitalized.” Smaller, more affluent households, displace larger, less affluent households. The net impact of this is that the population overall decreases. Barring any unforeseen change in the demographics of who is moving to the Hudson Valley during the current wave, it is likely that the net effect of the influx of people moving in from New York City will be to decrease the population of the region, not to increase it.


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