Home Uncategorized We finally know how many people left Boston during the pandemic

We finally know how many people left Boston during the pandemic

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In new census data, Suffolk County has seen one of the largest population declines nationwide.


Congress Street during the morning rush hour at the start of the pandemic. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

You wouldn’t know by looking at all the signs found elsewhere, like, say, skyrocketing rents and real estate prices in Boston, and intensifying woes for apartment hunters. But according to a new round of census data, many people really, really decamped from the city and its surrounding communities between July 2020 and July 2021.

Suffolk County, which includes Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop, saw a notable population reduction in those years of 3.3%, or 28,850 people. This figure means that we have had the seventh highest rate of population decline in the United States. Other areas have seen much larger declines, including New York County, where the population fell 6.9%, and San Francisco, where it fell 6.7%.

Overall, cities saw their numbers decline, partly because the birth rate was lower than the death rate, and partly because many people at this point in history were looking for housing outside the centers urban, driven by quality of life. changes brought about by the pandemic, or tempted by the possibility of working from home in greener and more spacious pastures.

That said, the report only covers population patterns for a while, ending as the vaccine summer was just beginning here, and the situation on the ground has clearly changed a lot in the months since. You will recall that Boston, in the deepest COVID slump, actually saw rents go down, an unfathomable outcome in all scenarios beyond a global pandemic. That is, until they don’t. Here, in 2022, high rents and cutthroat competition for housing are back with a vengeance.

Let’s also not forget that previous census data showed that between 2010 and 2020 Boston’s population grew by 58,000, and trend lines before the dreaded coronavirus showed people were pouring in for cities, no a way from their.

So what are we to make of Suffolk County’s outstanding performance when it comes to people heading out in this particularly difficult year? Maybe that tells us that all the talk about cities like ours emptying out in the wake of COVID has, for a brief moment, lived up to all the hype. But those skyrocketing rental prices certainly suggest that as colleges put the days of Zoom behind them and our restaurants and cultural centers reopened, Boston’s desirability as a place to live has quickly returned to average.