that is to places with the most economic freedom and more limited government.
More important, the key group leaving New York and other so-called "youth-magnets" comprises the middle class, particularly families, critical to any long-term urban revival. This year's Census shows that the number of single households in New York has reached record levels; in Manhattan, more than half of all households are singles. And the Urban Future report's analysis found that even well-heeled Manhattanites with children tend to leave once they reach the age of 5 or above.
The key factor here may well be economic opportunity. Virtually all the supposedly top-ranked cities cited in this media narrative have suffered below-average job growth throughout the decade. Some, like Portland and New York, have added almost no new jobs; others like San Francisco, Boston and Chicago have actually lost positions over the past decade.
In contrast, even after the current doldrums, San Antonio, Orlando, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix all boast at least 5% more jobs now than a decade ago. Among the large-narrative magnet regions only one--government-bloated greater Washington--has enjoyed strong employment growth.
A useful graphical test of this hypothesis would be to have something like this graphic of economic freedom and something like this graphic of employment changes side-by-side or imposed over one another.