BOSTON — the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) today released a report that projects that Greater Boston in 2040 will be substantially greyer, will need 305,000–435,000 new housing units (mostly multifamily, and mostly in urban areas), and – without better retention and attraction of young workers – will have a stagnant or slow-growing work force that will put a drag on the economy.
If current trends continue in birth and death rates, migration and housing occupancy, MAPC’s ”Status Quo Scenario” projects, population would grow approximately 6.6% over the next three decades, and be accompanied by a substantial aging of the population. The number of people age 65 and older would grow by 82%; the population 25 to 64 would remain unchanged; and number of children under age 15 could decline by 11%.
Changing trends could result in a “Stronger Region” scenario with a population increase of 12.6%, a 7% increase in the population age 25 to 64 and only a 5% decline in children under 15.
“These projections make it clear that attracting and retaining younger workers is critical to the region’s economic vitality,” says MAPC Assistant Director of Data Services Tim Reardon. “To make that happen, we need to be building the types of housing younger households prefer, in places that they want to live.”
Among the report’s key findings:
- If current trends continue, the labor force in the region will remain effectively unchanged (adding just 11,000 workers by 2040) due to a wave of Baby Boomer retirements and weak inmigration of younger workers. Slow growth or decline in the number of workers will put a drag on economic growth. The Stronger Region scenario projects that if attraction and retention of young people increases modestly, the region might add 174,000 people to the labor force by 2040, an increase of 7%.
- A substantial number of new housing units will be needed to meet demand, even under a slow-growth scenario. The Status Quo scenario anticipates demand for 305,000 new housing units from 2010 to 2040, an increase of 17%. Achieving the Stronger Region scenario would require production of 435,000 new units. Under either scenario, most new demand would result from household formation and housing turnover among residents who are currently under the age of 44. Residents currently over the age of 45 will need fewer housing units in 2020 than they do today, due to outmigration and mortality.
- Multifamily housing, both for-sale and rental units, will comprise at least 48% of housing demand under the Status Quo scenario and as much as 62% of demand in Stronger Region. Even in suburban municipalities, multifamily demand would comprise 28% of total demand under Status Quo and 37% of demand in Stronger Region. More than half of housing demand would be in urban communities under either scenario – as much as 56% in Stronger Region.
Developed as part of MAPC’s forthcoming Regional Housing Plan for Metro Boston, these new projections will have broad utility for local housing plans and school enrollment projections, regional transportation planning efforts, and state programs focused on housing and workforce development. In 2012, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development adopted the Stronger Region scenario as the basis for the Commonwealth’s multifamily housing production goal, and is now working to coordinate local and state policies to support the achievement of that goal.