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Spring Board Conference Demographics Panel Recap

By William Zordani | Photography by Josh Sears

April 28, 2022

Demographics Panel

After a two-year hiatus, the Graaskamp Center was thrilled to host its Spring Board Conference at the Ritz Carlton Chicago on April 7th and 8th. Featuring a theme of “These Times They are a-Changin,” keynote presenters and panelists took a deep dive into the pressing issues of our times, including the war in Ukraine, inflation, and post-COVID supply chain issues. Over 140 board members, graduate students, faculty, and guests attended the event and we’ve received great feedback overall. Below you’ll find a recap of the key takeaways from the demographics panel discussion.

At the Graaskamp Center’s 2022 Spring Board Conference in Chicago, Michael Toolis, a former Vice President at Stantec, moderated an insightful panel discussion with several distinguished industry analysts and economists. The speakers included Christian Beaudoin, Managing Director of Research & Strategy at JLL, Dave Bragg, Co-Head of Strategic Research at Green Street, and Roberto Ramirez, Assistant Division Chief of Special Population Statistics, Population Division at U.S. Census Bureau. 

The panel discussed a range of topics including population diversity, growth, distribution, and the real estate considerations of these trends; a summary of their discussion is below.

Population Diversity

  • The United States has become more racially and ethnically diverse since 2010
  • The number and percent of foreign-born individuals have steadily increased since the 1970s (13.5% of the nation’s current population was foreign-born)

Population Growth

  • The current decade is expected to have the lowest population growth in the history of the United States
    • 2010-2020 had a historically low population growth of 3.5%
  • Population growth could become negative by 2024 if current birth and death rates continue
  • Between 2011 and 2021, nearly every county in the US saw declines in its working-age population 
  • 16 states had a net population decline in the last decade
    • COVID-19 accelerated these trends
  • This is leading to a competitive nature between cities and states, as any population migration can be seen as a zero-sum game
    • In the past, cities could all grow together since the population was growing so much. This is no longer the case 

Population Distribution

  • US population distribution has flipped in the last century
    • In 1920, 60% of the population was in the Northeast and Midwest
    • In 2020, over 60% of the population was in the South and West
  • Utah, Idaho, and Texas have been the biggest winners with the highest population increases in the last decade
  • Illinois, Illinois, Mississippi, and West Virginia were the biggest losers with the largest population decreases in the last decade

Real Estate Considerations

  • Corporate tax rates and cost of living have emerged as a driver of the migration discussion
    • Access to good schools is also an important factor
  • The flight to lower taxes and lower costs of living can only be temporary
    • Higher density requires additional services, such as schools, transit, infrastructure, which will require funding through taxes
  • Household income growth is the key demand driver
    • Households with a bachelor’s degree or higher have experienced higher household income growth over time 
  • Over the past decade, many new markets have emerged as centers of population growth and tenant demand
  • Growth markets such as Austin, Nashville, and Salt Lake City have narrowed the gap relative to gateway cities in terms of costs, entertainment, and culture
  • New markets are emerging to become “the next Austin.”  These include Tampa, Greenville, and Albuquerque
  • Population growth and job creation across with Sun Belt have dramatically outpaced most gateway cities
  • Issues in cities, such as COVID, civil unrest, and crime, may only be temporary
  • Gateway cities possess infrastructure advantages 
  • The future of work will favor cities due to agglomeration and information-sharing

For additional information, check out the speakers’ slides.