The Changing Profile of Central Ohio’s Growth

Who is Central Ohio now and who will it be in the future?

The past 40 years have seen Central Ohio communities grow by more than 675,000 people, enough to fill Ohio Stadium more than six times. More than 400,000 housing units were constructed and more than 625,000 jobs were added by our region’s employers. While Columbus and other historic downtowns have remained vital, growth over the past decades has been characterized, for the most part, by single family residential growth outside the outerbelt, and new suburban employment concentrations. Most growth was designed around automobile access and investments in a robust highway and roadway network. This form of growth accelerated as the Baby Boomers entered their peak wage earning and family-raising years. Local plans and policies, and regional infrastructure investments, pivoted towards supporting this generation’s demand for larger-lot single family homes and suburban lifestyles. With some ebbs and flows, the region has been fairly prosperous through the past 30 to 40 years.

Community Insight

“The demographic shifts our region is now experiencing, and will continue to experience for a number of decades, will have profound effects on our built environment. The types of new and growing households that will define the future housing needs of our region are substantially different than those that defined, and in effect have “driven”, our region’s housing development over the past three or four decades. It is vital that we understand and prepare for these transformational changes if we are to create the types of places and living environments we desire for our communities, and which will be needed to help ensure our region’s long term economic competitiveness.”

—Terry Foegler, Director of Strategic Initiatives/Special Projects at City of Dublin Ohio

Columbus MSA Current and Future Households Growth by Type

*Refers to households added from 2010-2040, excluding households that existed prior to 2010.

Over the next 40 years, Central Ohio, like most other regions and states across the United States, will be experiencing dramatic changes related to demographics and the shifting preferences of existing and future residents and workers. Nearly 80% of the growth in the last two decades (1990 to 2010) was among 35 to 64 year olds. Over the next decades, this same group will account for only 31% of growth. Aging baby boomers will make up nearly 45% of growth and those under 35 will account for more than 25%. Households with children will account for less than 20% of growth over the next decades, and the region will be more diverse; racial and ethnic minorities are expected to account for a majority of the region’s growth by 2050. These significant shifts have implications for the kinds of homes and communities needed and preferred by existing and future residents of Central Ohio.

Columbus MSA Current and Future Population by Age Group

Source: Arthur C. Nelson, COLUMBUS< OHIO Metropolitan Area trends, Preferences and opportunities: 2010 to 2030 and to 2040 (NRDC)