7 Ways Montgomery County is Changing

7 Ways Montgomery County is Changing

From Dan Reed and Greater Greater Washington

1. The county is growing slowly, but still adding a lot of people. During the 1950s and 1960s, Montgomery County grew really fast, doubling in population each decade. These days, it’s adding new people at a much lower rate—but with over one million residents, that’s still a lot of people. County planners anticipate 208,000 new residents in the next 20 years.

2. The county is getting more diverse, but not evenly. The county became majority-minority for the first time in the 2010 Census, and planners found that many neighborhoods across the county are pretty mixed, with no majority ethnic or racial group. At the same time, the east-west divide is still very real: as East County and the Upcounty become more diverse, west side communities like Bethesda and Chevy Chase have simply remained white and affluent. One exception: close-in Silver Spring, which has become both more diverse and wealthier.

3. This isn’t just a place where people raise kids anymore. Today, households with kids make up just one-fourth of the county’s population, down from 60% in 1960. The county has more older residents whose kids have grown, and planners anticipate that we’ll have fewer and fewer working-age people in the future. Meanwhile, one-fifth of the county are Millennials, who either don’t have kids yet or aren’t planning to have them.

4, County planners found an average of 230 single-family home demolitions each year since 2013, over half of which are in Bethesda, where entire blocks have been transformed.

5. Incomes have been flat for 30 years, which means homeownership is now for the old. Over one-third of Montgomery County households are renters, and they’re not just living in apartments, but in townhomes or single-family houses that are being rented out. One consequence is that homeowners are getting older, as rising prices mean that people who bought their homes decades ago can’t afford to move, and younger residents can’t afford to buy their homes anyway. In 1990, people over 55 owned one-third of the county’s homes and people under 34 owned 18% of them. Today, adults over 55 own 54% of the county’s homes, while those under 34 own just 7% of them.

6. Most people who live here also work here. Nearly 600,000 people work here, and planners found that about 61% of them also live here. In fact, the percentage of people who leave the state to work in DC or Virginia has actually gone down a little. Just 15% of the county’s workers work for the federal government. More people work in the “eds and meds” fields, like education or health care, in the hospitality or food service fields, as well as what’s called “professional work,” like lawyers or consultants.

7. There’s a shift in where people work. Office vacancies in Montgomery County are the highest they’ve been in over a decade, in part to changing work habits like telecommuting, coworking, and smaller offices.  Downtowns like Bethesda are attracting companies like Marriott from suburban office parks, which are now struggling.

Amy Ginsburg

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