30 Issues Day 5: NY and NJ Brain Drain

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Greene Space is full of 20-year-olds today, and the 30 Issues in 30 Days series takes a look at how New York and New Jersey can best remain an attractive and affordable place for young people. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein and Bob Hennelly discuss, along with Joel Kotkin professor at Chapman University and author of the forthcoming The Next Hundred Million, America In 2050.


Andrea Bernstein, Bob Hennelly and Joel Kotkin

Comments [21]

Nandini from Manhattan

Clif, I'm the young Indian woman you're referring to - and I'd like to clarify, lest you think I'm living off my parents' largesse. First, they don't have any so-called largesse - I rent instead of living on-campus because NYU housing is absurdly expensive for upperclassmen (I'm a sophomore - the cheapest dorm after freshman year is $13000 for the school year). I have two jobs to which I devote six days and almost forty hours a week, and have a class load of 18 hours. Those two jobs pay for all my bills except the rent, which my parents kindly pay for me. If I am willing to do anything to live in New York, it means I am not willing to give up on my hopes and ambitions just to move to the suburbs and drive to work every morning. Bob Henley talked about practical skills this morning, and I'm ready to do all the things he mentioned: lift heavy machinery, operate equipment and any other menial labor you care to name. New York represents a wealth of opportunity that you can't find in Vienna, Austria or Tulsa, Oklahoma - hence the vast influx of young people who come here to try and achieve success. If you can find a single person my age - or yours - who doesn't have any debt resulting from their college days, please, by all means, introduce me. I must've missed a lesson somewhere. Until then, I will work long hours and stay in school and pay bills and continue placing stock in E.B. White's "Here is New York."

Sep. 25 2009 06:08 PM
JP from The Garden State

All you folks are missing the point, Rich folk that live and own NYC don’t need your middle class money. They’ll get along just fine with out you and have been able to do so for a long time. So no tears will be shed when your parents can no longer afford to support you to live in Manhattan and not a sing rich folk will loose sleep because you could not raise your middle class kids in NYC…

Sep. 25 2009 11:16 AM
Rich from Staten Island

Both candidates for Mayor should show up for one of the civil service examination/test sites and see the hundreds of people who are lined up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to take these test offering a job with benefits. These tests are offering employment at times for job titles which aren't high paying but offer something closer to a living wage with health benefits. This region despearately needs leadership to generate new jobs to the NYC area.

Sep. 25 2009 11:12 AM
Natalia from Northern NJ

What a great subject! This is a terrific opportunity for me to say that I am extremely happy to be moving back to Midwest after 5 years of struggle in the tri-state area. The job opportunities (I am in finance, post-MBA) turned out to be not so good after all - even before the Wall Street collapse. People don't realize that only a relatively small % of people actually "make" it on Wall Street, but many more people try! :) But much more importantly, I have found the overall quality of life - green space, exercise opportunities, real estate - inaccessible and unaffordable. I have also disliked the "rub-it-in-your-face" culture that is so prevalent here.
Good-bye, NYC! :)

Sep. 25 2009 11:07 AM
JP from The Garden State


your right, Bridgeport is still a dump. Went to school at UB in the late 80’s, 1# murder capital at the time. Just visited and it may not be 1# murder capital but most of the neighborhoods off the beaten path looks the same, barbwire, trash and car parts...

Sep. 25 2009 11:06 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I've seen some crazy living situations with people trying very hard to stay here (tent in backyard, 4 girls in a living room, etc) and then there's the trust fund kids who romp through the city with oblivious ease. If you're into a career in a high paying job, NYC on your own could actually be managable. But God help the artists, the social services and non-profit dreamers. Its sad that the people who make this city so interesting and help those in need are the ones who have the hardest time staying here.

Sep. 25 2009 11:02 AM
Amy Kohn from Bronx

Why does the assumption that you can't raise kids in NYC or the boros go unchallenged?
We have kids in publics schools who manage
just fine.
Stay in NY and have your kids (if you would like to). Don't fall victim to the crazy assumption
that NY is somehow unwholesome or BAD for kids!

Sep. 25 2009 11:00 AM

Some of these desperate people really scare me and seem to be contributing tho this gentrification culture. When someone says "... I'll do anything to stay here" the danger is that it empowers and reinforces this push towards high-end living. The young Indian woman said that her family basically pays her way here and I think that's what is counted on by landlords, stores, etc... They can justify charging these unrealistically high rents because they know that the parents will pay.

To me, the question is how do we make NYC affordable but still keep it nice?

I am a late 30-something musician from Buffalo, NY that came to "make it" and it's becoming increasingly difficult to afford to live here because of these young people moving here with their parents $$$. I work hard and am not able to make it soley as a musician. Luckily I have an I.T. background to fall back on, however, it takes a lot of time and energy away from my art.

VERY frustrating!

Sep. 25 2009 10:56 AM
Kelly Williams from Brooklyn

I would like to agree with the 31 year-olds comment. She said exactly what I was thinking as a 33 year-old, middle class woman who is also getting married next summer and would love to stay in NYC and raise a family here. I have not been satisfied with either of the mayoral candidates statements about the middle class. I expect Bloomberg to not say much, but I at least share his transportation and environmental vision for this city. Thompson, on the other hand, focuses on water bills, property taxes and parking tickets when he talks about the middle class. Water bills and property taxes would be important to me if I could even afford to buy here, but I can't now or anytime soon. As for parking tickets, please. Not to mention that property taxes are very low compared to our surrounding communities of north Jersey, Nassau and Suffolk counties and Fairfield county. Let's talk about how to help the middle class buy a home in the city and then I will pay attention.

Sep. 25 2009 10:56 AM
Daniel from Munich

I left NYC for work and a doctoral degree in physics. New York has many things, and some top universities, but it doesn't have so many opportunities for academics as one might think. It was much cheaper to leave for my education, and I don't have many colleagues who find jobs in or around New York City.

New York needs to give incentive to the expansion of its academic centers.

Sep. 25 2009 10:55 AM

I in the opposite predicament. I live in NYC but would and would like to leave but there aren't many policy research opportunities in Florida.

Sep. 25 2009 10:53 AM
Robert from NYC

Right on, Andrea.

Sep. 25 2009 10:52 AM
Robert from NYC

She's right NY is not affordable to most who even live here already not in subsidized housing. You can thank your mayor has made this an unaffordable city... well she's saying it right now...

Sep. 25 2009 10:51 AM
CBrown from Brooklyn

The Bridgeport/Stamford area?!?!?!

Bridgeport and Stamford and the surrounding towns are very separate and different. Stamford is OK re: quality of life, but Bridgeport . . . I grew up near Bridgeport, and while it's been several years since I've been back, unless it's changed dramatically, Bridgeport was one of the worst cities I've ever seen. It had all the negative aspects of urban living and none of the positives. And while the surrounding areas may be 'nicer,' they offer very little of interest to most younger people.

Sep. 25 2009 10:50 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

Why is a 20 year old putting a drain on her family's finances so that she could live downtown? It's a big city, shouldn't she lighten her family's load and move somewhere more affordable?

Sep. 25 2009 10:50 AM
Phoebe from NJ

People leave the state for college to get away from family, and have that non-academic college experience. And the highly educated will typically gravitate back to the major cities, as these offer career and life opportunities that aren't available in most areas of the US.

Sep. 25 2009 10:50 AM
Robert from NYC

Is the the suck up to NYC show?!

Sep. 25 2009 10:49 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

I know everyone likes to bash "transplants", but not all of us are here just to gentrify poor neighborhoods and party with our trustfunds. Natives may sometimes leave, but I don't think New York will ever stop attracting intelligent and driven young people who love this city.

Sep. 25 2009 10:47 AM
Chris from New York

My webcast isn't working. :0(

Sep. 25 2009 10:46 AM

According to the Tax Foundation (, NJ and NY the #1 and #2 WORST business tax climate in the country. I have also heard that health care professionals are leaving the state of NJ because of the malpractice climate. The government states that based upon our population, there should be close to 200 Neurosurgeons to service us. There are barely 50 still practicing in the state. Most have left in the past 10 years and are practicing in other states.

Sep. 25 2009 10:14 AM
hjs from 11211

why are taxes high in the northeast? maybe because we have to support the southern, plains, and mountain states?
a young person would be wise to move to a no tax state that receives federal aid.
do I really need to subsidize high fructose corn syrup ?
northeast congress people have been far to generous to the confederates

Sep. 25 2009 09:44 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.