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Where are all the Young People?

By Gregory Conley:
One of the common things you hear from people is the phrase, “The young people are moving away.” If our metro is so much like a repelling magnet, where are the young people seeking refuge locally?

Buffalo, of course.

To find the accompanying data, I used the Census Bureau’s Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000 and the Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010. The first chart shows the median age of each county subdivision as listed by the Census. This means that there are not any villages listed below, but purely towns and cities.

As you can see, Buffalo (highlighted in purple in the righthand chart) is the only subdivision to become younger. A fair argument would be that -0.4 years is not very much. You could argue that Buffalo might not look like it is getting that much younger at all. Many of the places bordering Buffalo are under three percent, such as Amherst, Tonawanda (Town), Cheektowaga, and Lackawanna.

But wait a second, what’s the median age in Buffalo again, compared to the rest of the county?

Oh yea, 33.2 years old. Who’s close? – No one.

Organized 2010 Median Age.jpg

Organized Change in Median Age for Erie County Subdivisons.jpg

To the left is an organized chart of median age from youngest to oldest, featuring Buffalo on top.

The City is far and away the youngest by almost 7 years to Lackawanna, a statistically distant 2nd. 

I think there is also some evidence as to what is happening out in more rural areas of the county as well, in terms of median age. However, I won’t go into that here.

Even after all of this data, there is a question still lingering…

How is Buffalo getting younger?

Using the same source for the median age, the Census also provides age splits of number and percentage within the population. Combining the two data sets together, you can see the change in number over the past decennial Census. Please note that these are actual numbers, so the overall totals show a population decrease between the decades.


Here, we see that the largest gain is in the 55 to 59 years old age bracket! (Who thought that? I sure didn’t.) Second are the 20 to 24 year olds. Many of these youngsters could be called Millennials, which is the largest age demographic nationally since the Baby Boomers.

I should also point out that we see Buffalo has less children, 25 to 44 year olds, and 65 and over. This could be for a variety of reasons, but ones that you might not think. The trend of the decrease in those same age groups is actually county-wide.

If we take data from a previous article, we see that in nearly the same time span Buffalo has become wealthier and smarter. Along with the 45 to 64 year old age group, the college aged and young professional Millenials are helping to contribute to a wealthier and smarter City. Some may argue the entirety of the data is not significant, but I do think it is positive and consistent.

To answer the original question of this article, I guess the “young people” are alive and well in Buffalo. They’re a smart bunch. And, they might get their coffee from Caffe Aroma, secretly fulfill their guilty pleasure of carrot cake from Romeo and Julliet’s, or check for the latest additions to the craft beer menus at a variety of bars and restaurants.

Granted, while not everyone wants to stick around for the fun, there’s still a good time to be had!

Wait, What about other cities?

Great question! I did check other major cities in New York State, as well as the Rust Belt. Buffalo fell right in the pack with other cities. New York as a whole is getting younger quite rapidly except for New York City, which is already young as a City and Metro (~35 years old for both). In the end for most cities, there was a strong correlation between metro age (older) to city proper age (younger).  The reason why I did not display this data was due to the lack of 2000 metropolitan data. I could not find consistent geographies for 2000 and 2010. There was only 2005 to 2010 data. I would like to see if there are correlations of population loss within age splits for metro areas.

Gregory Conley is a graduate of the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education in English as a Second Language Education, M.Ed. His interests include expanding equality to access in education, learning about the ethnic histories of Buffalo, and urban planning.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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