Millennials aren’t leaving New Jersey at any higher rates than young people have in the past, and they’re not leaving at a rate greater than people the same age are moving out of neighboring states, says a new research report published Monday.

While people between the ages of 18 and 39 account for two-thirds of those leaving New Jersey, they are migrating in and out at the same rate they have for decades, says Cliff Zukin, a professor at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

“Millennials are not leaving New Jersey at a greater rate than they’ve ever done in the past. So there’s no crisis here. It’s not that people are fleeing the state,” Zukin said.

Citing Census Bureau data, the report says 6 percent of millennials moved out of state in 2016, but nearly all of that was offset by millennials moving in from another state.

“Young people are always more mobile. And the millennials are the largest group, so yes, of course, more of them are going to leave,” he said.

Zukin says nearly 40 years of polls show young residents see New Jersey the same way as older ones – as an expensive place to live. But they have less money to cope with it, so many live at home and postpone their lives.

“It’s a very high cost of living state. Cost of housing is very high. That’s who we are,” Zukin said. “And so younger New Jerseyans have the same problems as other New Jerseyans, but they are certainly more vulnerable.”

Evan Friscia, one of the six Rutgers University graduate students who worked on the study, said the biggest concerns of people age 18 to 39 mostly track other generations.

“Any New Jerseyan is going to be affected by high cost of housing,” Friscia said. “The college debt maybe not so much, but definitely high cost of living is something all New Jerseyans suffer from.”

Brandon McKoy, director of government and public affairs for New Jersey Policy Perspective, which commissioned the study, said the problem is a lack of state spending on housing and higher education, the latter of which drives up student borrowing and makes it harder for young people to get established independently.

“And that just really requires the state investing in these issues and making them a priority. State investment in education is down. State investment in housing is down. And that’s what’s going to happen when you stop investing in things. It’s going to get worse,” McKoy said. “It’s not really rocket science over here.”

A New Jersey Future report issued last year found millennials are leaving many parts of New Jersey and that their numbers are down 2 percent in the state in a period when they were up 7 percent nationally.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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