Sacramento, 18th Most Suburbanized City in America

Why we love living here, Sacramento’s population is over 98% suburban.

This story from New Geography examines suburbanized cities, and Sacramento’s listing is found in the last graph of the story.

An excerpt.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday, in a photographic spread, trumpeted the 70th anniversary of Levittown, the New York suburban development that provided the model for much of the rapid suburbanization that occurred after the Second World War in the United States. Levittown’s production line building also set the stage for the similar suburbs of cities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Over the last seven decades, the United States has become a predominantly suburban nation. In 2011-2015, 85 percent of the population in the 53 major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) lived in the suburbs or exurbs. This is based on analysis at the small area level (zip code tabulation areas) from the American Community Survey that classifies population based on demographic data (Figure 1).

Generally similar findings have been made about Canada and Australia by research teams led by Professor David L. A. Gordon of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Gordon and his Canadian team pioneered this type of analysis, which is not dependent on core municipality versus surrounding area analysis. Core municipalities often do not reflect the realities of metropolitan areas because they vary so greatly in their share of metropolitan area population. For example, the city of Atlanta has only 8 percent of the metropolitan area population, while San Antonio has more than 60 percent of the metropolitan area population.

Suburban Nation: United States

Many people, including urban analysts, are unaware of the extent to which American cities have become suburbanized. But the former mono-centricity that characterized most metropolitan areas at the end of World War II has been replaced first by multi-centered suburban employment development (polycentricity) and more recently by dispersion of employment. As early as 2000, more people worked in dispersed worksites in the major metropolitan areas, including New York, than in the downtowns (CBD’s) and suburban office centers, according to research by Bumsoo Lee and Peter Gordon. City Sector Model analysis shows that CBDs lost two percent of their market share from 2000 to 2015, based on a City Sector Analysis of County Business Patterns data. It seems likely that the trend of dispersion has continued (Figure 2)….

There are a total of 34 metropolitan areas that are 95 percent or more suburban. These include examples such as Atlanta, at 99.2 percent San Diego at 98.9, percent Sacramento at 98.3 percent, Austin at 97.9 percent, Denver at 96.9 percent and Portland at 90.0 percent.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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