Baby Boomers Are Fueling the Economy

New York, NY, July 8, 2024-Baby Boomers are driving the economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. 

“Georgetown, Texas, is the fastest-growing city in the U.S. It’s largely thanks to the baby boomers. 

“Thousands of them have settled in an enormous planned community called Sun City Texas: 5,421 acres of single-family homes clustered around pools, fitness centers and pickleball courts, reserved mostly for buyers 55 and older. The hottest party is the yearly Mardi Gras parade and ball. The median age is 73. 

“‘We’re not dead yet,’ said Suzanne Herndon, 70, who moved to Sun City in 2021. 

“Cities are often focused on attracting young families, or hip remote workers. But Sun City residents have turned out to be the best economic stimulus Georgetown could ask for. The city’s operating budget is flush. Its rainy-day fund is brimming. Stores, restaurants, hospitals and health clinics add hundreds of jobs every year. Of Georgetown’s 96,000 residents, about 17,000 live in Sun City.

“Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder couldn’t be more pleased. The seniors moving into Sun City are active and eager to spend.

“‘It’s like they’re at college except they don’t have to go to class and they have $3 million in the bank,’ said Schroeder, who at a spry 47 isn’t eligible for Sun City. ‘It’s almost like a cruise ship on land.’

“Older Americans are emerging as major drivers of the economy. Their stock portfolios, retirement savings and paid-off homes have swelled in value over decades of growth. Hours once spent raising young children and working can now be devoted to golf, concerts and brunch.

“Today, Americans 55 and over control nearly 70% of U.S. household wealth, according to the Federal Reserve. In 1989, the first year of available data, they controlled just 50%. Their dollars amount to 45% of U.S. personal spending, according to Moody’s Analytics, up from 29% three decades ago. 

“Boomer-rich Georgetown has now been the No. 1 city for population growth for three years in a row, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data for cities with populations of at least 50,000. Georgetown grew nearly 11% in 2021, another 14% in 2022, and 11% again last year.

Georgetown’s growth isn’t entirely due to the hard-partying senior citizens of Sun City. The city has been boosted by overflow from nearby Austin’s rapid, tech-driven expansion. In May, residents approved a ballot measure to build another high school. 

“Before Georgetown’s reign, the No. 1 city was usually some other Texas suburb. But those, such as nearby Leander or Houston-adjacent Conroe, were full of young families. 

“San Marcos, Texas-the last city to be fastest-growing three years in a row, from 2012 to 2014-has a median age of 25. The median age in all of Georgetown, by contrast, is 44. Some 27% of Georgetown’s residents are 65 or older.

“Construction started in Sun City Texas in 1994. Mega-builder PulteGroup expects to sell the 10,550th and final house there in 2028.

“The median home price in Sun City Texas is about $495,000, according to Pulte, up from $358,000 in 2019. About 55% of homes were bought with cash in 2023, up from around 40% historically, said Pablo Rivas, Pulte’s president of the Central Texas division.

“Age-restricted homes are clustered in planned communities throughout the U.S., particularly in the South and West. There are about two dozen Sun City communities alone. 

“The first one, near Phoenix, will be 65 next year.

“More developers are catering to the active boomer buyer. Earlier this year, Pulte cited the ‘active adult’ sector as among its best revenue producers. In a survey of nearly five-dozen developers last year, more than half told John Burns Research and Consulting that they are including an age-restricted or age-targeted section in projects they are working on.

“Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and the Carolinas have gained a net half-million people who are age 55 or older from other states since 2021, according to a Moody’s Analytics analysis of Equifax data. Close to half are from California, New York and Illinois.”