Research Briefing | Mar 11, 2024

Eastern US metros face differing but often positive trends

The pandemic was associated in many minds with a flight of people away from city centers, raising doubts over the future trajectories of the four major East Coast metros in the US. Subsequently, New York City in particular faced various other challenges, including but not only the writers’ strike. But the situation now looks much more positive. We forecast that over the 2024 to 2028 period, New York City will see faster growth in employment and GDP than the New York metro as a whole, and also faster growth than in its suburbs. Meanwhile, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington all have forecast stories which contain positive elements.

What you will learn:

  • For New York City, positive factors include the return of tourists, and the partial reversal of working from home and the ‘flight to the suburbs’ for residents. The city’s media sector is putting the strikes behind it, the tech sector will see employment growth from next year, and the retail and hospitality sectors are expected to continue to perform strongly.
  • The other major East Coast metros have similar but different stories. Since the pandemic, Boston has seen employment recover faster in the city than in the suburbs, and we expect that to continue. In contrast, Washington’s suburbs have been relatively strong compared with Washington DC, reflecting the presence of key high tech and defense employers.
  • Migration flows have also been important for both those metros, but in particular for Philadelphia, which has been gaining residents from New York. Philadelphia benefits from lower housing costs and commute times than New York, but also boasts key employers, not least pharmaceutical companies.
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