City Sector Model

Growth Concentrated in Most Suburbanized Core Cities


An analysis of the just-released municipal population trends shows that core city growth is centered in the municipalities that have the largest percentage of their population living in suburban (or exurban) neighborhoods.

Improved Urban Core Analysis  read more »

Dispersion and Concentration in Metropolitan Employment


The just released County Business Patterns indicates a general trend of continued employment dispersion to the newer suburbs (principally the outer suburbs) and exurbs but also greater concentration in the central business districts of the 52 major metropolitan areas in the United States (over 1 million population in 2013). County Business Patterns is a Census Bureau program that provides largely private-sector employment data by geography throughout the nation.  read more »

Driving Farther to Qualify in Portland


Portland has been among the world leaders in urban containment policy. And, as would be predicted by basic economics, Portland has also suffered from serious housing cost escalation, as its median multiple (median house price divided by median household income) has risen from a normal 3.0 in 1995 to 4.8 in 2014.  read more »

Urban Core Millennials? A Matter of Perspective


Yes, millennials are moving to the urban cores but not in significant numbers when view from the context of larger city (metropolitan area) trends. That's the updated story, based on new small area data that approximates the year 2011 (Note: ACS 5-Year Data).

Small area trends are important to understanding developments in metropolitan areas, because conventional municipal jurisdiction based analysis obscures the extent of large suburban areas within the boundaries of most core municipalities. In 2010, approximately 58% of the population in core municipalities lived in small areas that were essentially suburban, with much lower population densities than areas that developed before World War II, and where nearly all motorized travel is by car.  read more »

Exodus of the School Children


The urban cores of the nation's 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population) lost nearly one-fifth of their school age population between 2000 and 2010. This is according an analysis of small area age group data for children aged 5 to 14 from Census Bureau data, using the City Sector Model. Over the period, the share of 5 to 14 age residents living in the functional urban cores declined from 15.0 percent to 12.0 percent (Figure 1).  read more »

Metropolitan Housing: More Space, Large Lots


Americans continue to favor large houses on large lots. The vast majority of new occupied housing in the major metropolitan areas of the United States was detached between 2000 and 2010 and was located in geographical sectors associated with larger lot sizes. Moreover, houses became bigger, as the median number of rooms increased (both detached and multi-family), and the median new detached house size increased.  read more »

Seniors Dispersing Away from Urban Cores


Senior citizens (age 65 and over) are dispersing throughout major metropolitan areas, and specifically away from the urban cores. This is the opposite of the trend suggested by some planners and media sources who claim than seniors are moving to the urban cores.  read more »

Beyond Polycentricity: 2000s Job Growth (Continues to) Follow Population


The United States lost jobs between 2000 and 2010, the first loss between census years that has been recorded in the nation's history. The decline was attributable to two economic shocks, the contraction following the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yet, even in this moribund job market, employment continued to disperse in the nation's major metropolitan areas.  read more »

Boomers: Moving Further Out and Away


There have been frequent press reports that baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1964, are abandoning the suburbs and moving "back" to the urban cores (actually most suburban residents did not move from urban cores). Virtually without exception such stories are based on anecdotes, often gathered by reporters stationed in Manhattan, downtown San Francisco or Washington or elsewhere in urban cores around the nation. Clearly, the anecdotes about boomers who move to suburbs, exurbs, or to outside major metropolitan areas are not readily accessible (and perhaps not as interesting) to the downtown media.  read more »

Urban Cores, Core Cities and Principal Cities

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Many American cities, described commonly as urban cores, are functionally more suburban and exurban, based on urban form, density, and travel behavior characteristics. Data from the 2010 census shows that 42.3 percent of the population of the historical core municipalities was functionally urban core (Figure 1). By comparison, 56.3 of the population lived in functional suburbs and another 1.3 percent in functionally exurban areas (generally outside the urban areas).  read more »