Suburbs Still Growing

In today’s pandemic climate, we will probably see even more suburban growth (social distancing) than reported in this article from New Geography.

An excerpt.

“The latest US Census Bureau metropolitan area population estimates (for 2019) were largely lost in the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the new results, released a few weeks ago, indicate that people are moving to where social distancing is less challenging — the suburbs and exurbs, with their lower density and perhaps from a pandemic point of view, their lower exposure density — with less intense human interaction and hence lower infection risk associated with ground-oriented housing (detached and attached houses and townhouses), travel by car and generally less crowded conditions, such as in stores.

“Moving to Lower Densities

“The new data indicates that within the major metropolitan areas, domestic migration away from the core counties was 2.23 million from 2010 to 2019. In contrast, the suburban and exurban counties gained 1.94 million. The suburban and exurban counties attracted 4.2 million more moving residents than the core counties (Figure 1). The rate has been accelerating. In the first two years of the decade, the suburbs and exurbs had about a 175,000 domestic migration advantage over the core counties. In the last three years, the suburban advantage has widened to over 600,000 (Figure 2).

“This is just another manifestation of the trends that have been underway since World War II. Most recently, since 2010, 92% of major metropolitan area growth was outside the functional urban cores (Figure 3). Employment dispersion continues, with more than 90% of new jobs being created outside the downtowns (central business districts) of the major metropolitan areas since 2010 (Figure 4).

“Generally Declining Growth

“Population growth has fallen off strongly among the major metropolitan areas. Eight of the largest 10 had slower growth from 2015 to 2019 than the first four years of the decade. Only Atlanta and Phoenix had larger growth rates in the later period (Figure 5).

“Declining Megacities

“The nation’s two megacities continued their decline. New York has lost nearly 120,000 residents since 2016. Domestic migration accounted for a loss of 196,000 New York metropolitan area residents in just the last year, 1.02% of its 2018 population. Second largest Los Angeles has lost more than 60,000 residents since 2017, while its net domestic migration loss was 122,000 in the last year. This is a loss of 0.92% of its 2018 population.

“Wannabe megacity Chicago continues to slip away from the 10 million status, with a population stuck at less than 9.5 million. The metropolitan area has lost about 90,000 residents since 2014 and has slightly fewer residents than in 2010. If Chicago had continued to grow at its tepid 2000s rate, the 10 million figure might have been achieved by the mid 2020s. Now, that may never occur. But as grim as things may seem, Chicago’s net domestic migration was the lowest in five years, and less as a percent of its population (0.79%) than in New York or Los Angeles.

“All three largest metropolitan areas lost overall population at a similar rate last year, with New York dropping 0.31%, Los Angeles 0.27% and Chicago 0.26%.”

Retrieved May 11, 2020 from

Be well Everyone!

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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