Facing Crunch, NYC's Middle Class Flees

Plane passes Empire State Building at sunset, New York City 2002/8/30 AP

Start spreading the news - New York City's middle class is leaving. And not just today either.

Sky-high rents, long commutes and other exorbitant living costs are just some of the reasons the nation's most expensive city has been steadily losing its middle class in recent years, according to a study released by the Center for an Urban Future.

New York City suffered a net loss of over 150,000 middle income residents in 2006 - a greater flight than 1993, when the city was in much worse shape economically - according to the study.

With New York more than twice as expensive as the national average, many former residents have opted for cheaper alternatives in Philadelphia, Charlotte and the Atlanta suburbs.

Looking at the numbers, it's not hard to understand why:

  • Monthly rents average $2,801, which is 53 percent higher than the next most expensive city, San Francisco. The national average is $995. (The rent figures reflect "effective rent," which factors free incentives and other landlord perks into the total cost.)

  • An annual salary of $123,322 in New York would be the equivalent of a $50,000 salary in Houston.

  • City taxes are 90 percent higher than the average of other major urban centers, according to a 2007 study from the Independent Budget Office.

    The city is also feeling the unemployment crunch that has escalated around the nation. In December, New York City's jobless rate hit 7.4 percent, up from 6.3 percent in November. In December 2007, that number was 5.1 percent.

    On Friday, the Labor Department reported the national unemployment rate soared to 7.6 percent after January saw the worst monthly job losses in 35 years.

    Among other issues squeezing New York's middle class residents are high child care costs (day care can run up to $25,000 a year), poor schools, high food costs and lengthy commutes.

    The report calls for, among other things, a preservation of affordable housing, improved infrastructure and a focus on the outer boroughs, not just Manhattan.
    • CBSNews

    Comments