And the evidence just keeps pouring in… Growth and development in metropolitan regions is shifting from the periphery to the core. I’ve made that point previously by pointing out that property values tend to be rising in metro cores and falling in the periphery. Now comes Census Bureau data that population growth in “cities” (presumably meaning traditional urban jurisdictions at the core of metro areas) are growing faster than the “suburbs” (presumably referring to political jurisdictions outside the core).
Reports the Wall Street Journal (I would provide a link to the original Census data but I can’t find it):
Many U.S. cities are growing faster than their suburbs for the first time in decades, reflecting shifting attitudes about urban living as well as the effect of a housing bust that has put a damper on moving.
According to Census data released Thursday, in 27 of the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas, city centers grew faster than suburbs between July 2010 and July 2011. By contrast, from 2000 to 2010 only five metro areas saw their cores grow faster than the surrounding suburbs.
Viewed as a whole, U.S. suburbs have grown faster than city centers in every decade since the 1920s, when rising automobile ownership inspired Americans to begin fleeing cramped city quarters for leafy suburbs, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Urban population growth accelerated markedly at the end of the last decade, he added.
The article cites falling crime rates, the departure of loud and smelly heavy industry and growing preference for walkable communities, although it points out that the shift may be tied to temporary factors like the recession and housing bust. Regardless of whether the data represent a blip or an inflection point, major home building companies are getting the message, the WSJ reports, and they are responding to the change in demand by pursuing more projects closer to the urban core.