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Gothamist did a story titled, “Millennials are moving to Buffalo & Living Like Kings.”

In addition to profiles of young people who moved to Buffalo and love life, the article sites the following statistics to support its premise:

According to census data analyzed by the New York Times, from 2000 to 2012 the number of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 in Buffalo jumped 34%—more than Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago…

According to The Buffalo News, incomes in the Buffalo Niagara region grew about 1.5% a year (after inflation) between 2003 and 2013—double the average annual increase nationwide during that time. In 2003, per capita personal income in the region was 11% lower than the national average, but by the end of 2013, it was $44,301, just 1% less.

There are some problems with Gothamist’s analysis.

Wikimedia Commons: Fortunate4Now

Wikimedia Commons: Fortunate4Now

First, Gothamist defines Millennials as college graduates, when broader definition is 18 to 34-year-olds. The U.S. Census shows 27.5 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds in the Buffalo metro have college degrees. That’s slightly higher than Rochester (25.1 percent) and the United States (22.3 percent). The percentage of educated young adults has increased in Buffalo in past decades, but it has increased everywhere. Millennials are a more educated generation.

There’s little data to suggest there is an influx of young people moving to the Buffalo metro. According to the U.S. Census, proportion of Millennials has increased slightly from 20.9 percent of the population to 22.3 percent of the population. Buffalo Millennials make up less of the population than Rochester’s Millennials (22.8 percent) and United States Millennials (23.4 percent).

As for their standard of living, there’s nothing to suggest Buffalo’s Millennials are doing substantially better. Buffalo Millennials earned a median salary of $34,344 between 2009 and 2013. That’s below their earnings in 2000, but higher than the U.S. median ($33,883) and Rochester median ($33,329). Wages have been on a downward spiral for this age group and there’s been no uptick.

More Buffalo Millennials are living with their parents (34.7 percent) than in Rochester (29.1 percent) and the United States (30.3 percent). One in five Buffalo Millennials live in poverty, a rate on par with Rochester and the rest of the country.

Are more of Buffalo’s Millennials moving to the city proper? Yes, but that’s happening in many cities, as many Millennials prefer urban lifestyle. One report shows Buffalo saw a 38 percent increase of Millennials living close to downtown between 2000 and 2010. Rochester saw a 19 percent increase, but in sheer numbers, Rochester has more than double the Millennials living close to the city center.

Data aside, there’s nothing wrong with capturing a sentiment. Buffalo is certainly doing a good marketing itself as a Rust Belt City on the move. Perhaps Rochester, which seemingly has a similar story to tell, can learn something.


Links of the Day:


Does Joe Morelle have a shot?

– Morelle is seen as more business friendly. He also received donations from the developer at the center of the Silver scandal.

The fight over who will be the next Assembly Speaker ‘pits upstate and the suburbs versus the city, borough versus borough, and new members versus the old guard.”

– “There’s an old saying around here: ‘Upstate only succeeds when downstate is divided.'”

The myth of the American love affair with cars.


15 Responses to Is Buffalo Really So Hot?

  1. I don’t know a ton about Buffalo’s neighborhoods but I can tell you that Rochester is getting incredibly close to have a huge fully “gentrified” area, much larger than anything I hear about going on in Buffalo. Put the East End, South Wedge, Monroe Ave, Park Ave, and NOTA all together, what does Buffalo have that can compete with that? I realize many of these individually are cleaned up, but there are still some spots of sketchiness on the borders. Clean up Monroe down by the inner loop, the edges of the South Wedge, and a couple other areas and the whole city should take off. Midtown, inner loop fill in, Alexander Park are all going to be huge for the area in the next couple years.

    I agree that for whatever reason Buffalo seems to be better at marketing itself. I don’t know who to blame other than the people in charge of the city, why don’t we ever promote the nice areas of the cities? I feel like all attention is paid to how terrible the city schools are and the poverty/violence up north of the city which are obviously huge problems and deserve attention if we really want the city to thrive, but all too often I feel as if Rochester looks like a horrible place to outsiders when in reality we have a ton to celebrate. Wish our city leaders saw things the same way.

  2. I had the opportunity to visit Buffalo on a fact-finding mission last fall for several days. I actually casually know several of the people mentioned in the Gothamist article. There is absolutely no doubt that the West Side of Buffalo is thriving. There are blocks upon blocks of boutiques, restaurants and pubs, shops, high-end apartment buildings, etc. Much of this energy is from the ground up. Rochester’s attitude is to wait for City Hall to get millions of dollars in public funds from the state and federal government for one or two massive, silver bullet projects. For example, a combination bus station-oversized auditorium-community college campus. What visionaries we are. A minor league outdoor sports stadium in the top 3 snowiest college towns in the nation for $35 million. On the other hand, Buffalonians know City Hall is corrupt as hell and run as far away and fast as possible from a project when the politicians get involved. Why don’t we? We have as much agency as anyone.

    • “In 2015, there is an estimated $674 million being invested in downtown Rochester through projects that are planned, under construction or already completed.”


      So can you explain how nothing is going on in Rochester aside from a couple “silver bullet” projects? We have plenty of private money being invested, and also didn’t get a billion dollars dumped in our city from the state like our neighbors to the west did. The problem in Rochester is the attitude. People need to stop acting like this is some boring small town that’s past the point of no return.

      • Unfortunately we have too many people that just parrot and repeat whatever is the “phrase of the day” without actually knowing what is really going on. He’s talking about a project from almost 10 years ago from crying out loud. And it’s probably because the media does a great job of talking about the controversial projects, but gives very little attention to the successful projects that are like 10X the investments happening in Rochester. So those who don’t frequent downtown very much just base their entire reality on a few media clips they saw a decade ago.

        I mean “blocks upon blocks” of boutique stores, restaurants, pubs shops” that Buffalo supposedly has that Rochester doesn’t?? LOL…apparently sean doesn’t realize we have about 5 neighborhoods downtown that also have blocks up blocks of pubs, boutiques, restaurants…etc.

  3. January 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm Orielly responds:

    Buffalo is on the lake … Rochester is close but not there
    Rochester has bad crime on most sides of DT. To the north south and west (Jefferson ave and Plymouth ave.) In the scope of things going out east ave is small alley way of non crime areas.
    We brag about our schools BUFFALO has more students by far. UB, Buff State and Canisius have a lot more students combined than the UR RIT and Fisher//Naz. And the Buffalo schools all have easy mass transit access to DT Buffalo and to the other schools.
    And as far as “rust belt” name is concerned, how come Toronto is not a RUST BELT city? ITs north of our rust belt but BOOMING and has for years. Oh its on the lake too, but could it be that The Cities of this country run by DEMs for decades, will finally be seen as the cause for stagnation and bad city management? And in NYC, we are witnessing the rapid decline into what that city used to be thanks to their new DEM mayor. Until urban voters vote for both parties and are not taken for granted and voters vote for experience, management, and leadership ability vs party or skin color our cities will for the most part continue their decline. Heck in the city of ROC an opposing view is never heard in a city council meeting. Without a check and balance … of an opposition, you’re going to get bad government with corruption. Can you say Sheldon Silver?

    • Here you go again Orielly whining and complaining. What part of more millennial living in the city of Rochester than Buffalo do you not understand? The size of the schools don’t matter. Rochester has plenty of students and more millennial living within the city limits. Remember, your observations of the city come from a plane in the sky while mine come from walking around the city and its many vibrant neighborhoods. And for the record, I am NOT a Millenial.

      The city is NOT stagnant contrary to the group of people who never spend a dime in the city constantly trying to bring it down.

      • I just don’t understand what these people stand to gain by constantly putting the city down with false statements. It’s frustrating that no matter how many times you tell people about everything going on downtown, all you hear back is negativity, yet they apparently have time to go check out what a “great” place Buffalo is compared to Rochester. Fact is, we all stand to gain if both cities prosper, just wish Rochester would start getting it’s proper dues.

        • January 30, 2015 at 9:43 am Orielly responds:

          Perhaps having the rusting top of midtown for years was fine with you. But for many people it was and is an outward sign of a city where demand to be here is not high. My point “from the plane” was also to show, that, its how the city is viewed by 1000s every day and regarding Midtown, how its been viewed for years. Think people on the plane don’t come here on a regular basis and see the same steel frame with no progress and have negative thoughts? They built the entire Empire State building in 9 months but we couldn’t put a skin on ten floors of midtown for how long?
          An earlier comment said that leaving downtown is only not safe going north.. thats not true … but if you disagree I suggest you walk with your family on say a Friday night at 10PM in the summer out of DT in any direction except down east ave and see what you think.
          The biggest problem is not the truth, its the disdain, name calling or attempted cover-up when one dares to speak it. Right out of the Obama playbook regarding anything associated with terrorism or terrorists.
          And again, how much DT development is associated with numerous and various public funded tax breaks and loans to developers? When DT is totally developed via a completely free market …. then the cheerleading can begin.

  4. Rochester is very negative towards itself.

  5. Rachel something I really wish the city would do is to advertise on television and radio. They should really promote all the great things there are downtown. I agree that Buffalo has been doing a better job lately of promoting itself. I think it also has an advantage of being a more internationally known city. Rochester should really put a lot of effort into doing the same sort of things. It’s amazing how much success we have had with just more of a grassroots type of development.

  6. January 30, 2015 at 7:52 am Animule responds:

    Buffalo isn’t worth our time and attention. We need to fix our own problems. But how do we do that when we have a press that actively avoids discussion of said problems – yourself included Rachel? Your Tweet on the fight outside of the bus terminal was disturbing and is more evidence of how manipulated our local news is. Here’s the Tweet: “Youth fights at bus terminal will happen. Happened on Main St. Happen in schools & neighborhoods. Focus on big pic, not sensational videos.” This makes me wonder how much crime the media actively avoided reporting on at Irondequoit Mall, on Main Street, in city schools and neighborhoods. And we’ve seen the same attitude toward reporting on disturbances at the Lilac Festival, Memorial Day at the lake, and after the Puerto Rican Festival. There is an active effort in this town to bury bad news in order to “protect” the city in some way. This is how the old Soviet Union used to operate, and nobody took anything that Tass reported on seriously. It’s sad that today’s press has become what Tass was back in the 1970s and 1980s. You have an obligation to report the news, not bury stuff that runs counter to your own political views.

  7. First of all Jason, I was being mildly sarcastic when I said I went on a “fact finding mission”. It was a two-day recreational break from my job and life in the Rochester area. I like going to other places for vacation. Second, Monroe County and NY state dollars (OUR tax dollars) are being used to refinance Frontier Field to the tune of $16.2 million. Never mind that we really don’t have that money to spend, or certainly not to renovate a minor league outdoor stadium that’s almost 20 years old. Forget the fact that $50 million of our money was spent on a ferry that went to Australia and the city of Rochester ran a $37 million budget deficit last year. Never mind that the city of Rochester’s taxpayers spent another $230 million on the Renaissance Square plan that resulted in… a new bus station. Indoors! What visionaries we are. We’re up to almost $300 million now.
    Yes definitely if you live downtown in the Warner Loft building or the like, which requires you to pay $1,800 a month in rent, and can afford to go see the R.P.O. or to a play at GEVA for a mere $40 a pop, then dine at Tournedo’s and end the evening at your city pied-a-terre because you can’t bear having to drive 20 minutes in your Lexus to your country retreat in Pittsford, the city’s booming. But most of the people I know don’t have $1,800 to cough up every month to life in a luxury apartment building.
    Go to the JOSANA neighborhood, less than two miles away and you are in the seventh most impoverished neighborhood in the country. Over half of students in the city school district fail to graduate each year. Most of the reason for that is systematic, generational poverty. If half of a doctor’s operations failed, they would be sued, stripped of their license and probably prosecuted for malpractice.
    Rochester has the highest rate of extreme poverty of any mid-sized city in the country. That’s defined as living on less than $12,000 a year. You try that please. Then you may have the right to righteous indignation. I think it is criminal. It is criminal that the mayor of the city pays herself the highest salary of any Upstate mayor and talked about the “two Rochesters” in her campaign but hires people at six-figure salaries to cover up her lack of imagination and good ideas. She makes $20,000 more than the county executive who presides over a county that is more than three and a half times that of the city (I’m not a fan of Maggie Brooks by any means).
    So is Rochester really “so hot”?

  8. I think not.

  9. January 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm Kristo Miettinen responds:

    Wow, that Gothamist article had a fantastic juxtaposition of it’s title and the photograph that came right below. It’s as though Matt Drudge worked there! Living like kings indeed, with a chicken-coop to prove it.

    Rochester has alot going for it, but it isn’t hip, or trendy, or what the media imagines millenials are supposed to be all about. Precision manufacturing, light industry, small shops, boutique optics… will never get the Gothamist treatment. But they can and will drive a prosperous city.

  10. Kristo… please. “Prosperous city”? What prosperous city? The one on the East Side of the Genesee River. Sure. The West Side? Not so much. Not that the suburbs are such a prize as well. The Brighton Food Depot served over 800 families last year. In Brighton, the paragon of affluent, well-educated cultured Smugtown liberals in our community. Greece, New York (no offense to Greece people) looks more and more to me like a dump, particularly around Dewey Avenue and points east. Titus Avenue in Irondequoit looks more like a war zone to me than a prosperous, well-cared for avenue. Prosperous. Maybe for the 1% like Tom Richards, who pocketed $10 million from RGS. Maybe for Lovely Warren, spending a lifetime on the public dole, whether in David Gantt’s office or as our “We don’t do nothin’ for no reason” $140,000 Mayor. Albany Law School and John Jay College should be demanding she give her college degrees back. It amazes me that this woman became a lawyer talking like that. You can fool some of the people all of the time but not if you think and act foolishly.

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