Planner’s Portfolio: National Trends

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This issue in the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on nationwide trends that may affect local communities.

Research on trends occurring nationwide helps to provide insight into changing patterns and attitudes locally. It also helps to predict future pressures that may affect local communities. As such, it is important to have a broad understanding of several key national trends to understand the context of local trends. Many of these trends are influenced by the coming of age of millennials, a group that grew up during big events like the great recession and the popularization of the internet. Such events have had great influence on patterns of consumption and lifestyle, affecting housing, retail, transportation, and even changing the workplace itself. It is important that local officials continue to address the different needs of a changing population.

With significant changes in the age of population comes a need for different housing types. As population ages there is more demand for smaller housing units with less maintenance. At the same time, millennials entering the workforce are looking for high-quality units in locations that provide good access to jobs and flexibility in case they need to move for another job.

Transportation will also change as new technologies in the twenty-first century significantly alter the way that people get around. The invention of autonomous vehicles and transportation network companies (TNC’s) such as Uber and Lyft will have large impacts on transportation. Because TNC’s are so easily used through mobile devices, many communities will see an increase in drop-off/pickup traffic.

The cultural shifts that are occurring as a result of the economic recession and changing population of the country are significantly altering the workforce. Because millennials are on the verge of comprising the largest portion of the workforce, employers will also locate offices and employment centers in areas where millennials want to live and work – namely areas with a mix of uses and access to transit. As competition for talent between employers continues to grow, it is likely that the younger generations will continue to switch jobs much more frequently than any previous generation.

The retail industry has been significantly changed by the exponential growth of online shopping over the past decade. Many nation-wide retailers have started to close physical stores to devote more resources to online commerce. At the same time, however, some online retailers have also started to develop physical stores. Online retail is changing the perception of in-store shopping from a ‘chore’ to a ‘leisure experience’ to be enjoyed.

For more information, check out the National Trends issue or the entire Planner’s Portfolio series.

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