The Long Term: Metro America Goes From 82% to 86% Suburban Since 1990


The major metropolitan areas of the United States experienced virtually all of their overall growth in suburban and exurban areas between 2000 and 2010. This is the conclusion of an analysis of the functional Pre-Auto Urban Cores and functional suburban and exurban areas using the Demographia City Sector Model.  read more »

Shaking Off The Rust: Cleveland Workforce Gets Younger And Smarter


In virtually every regional economic or demographic analysis that I conduct for Forbes, Rust Belt metro areas tend to do very poorly. But there’s a way that they could improve, based in large part on the soaring cost of living in the elite regions of California and the Northeast. And one of the rustiest of them appears to be capitalizing on the opportunity already: that perpetual media punching bag, Cleveland.  read more »

Will the World’s Emerging Megacities Turn the Corner? For Most of Them, Probably Not


Two distinct expressions of urbanism, the global city and the mega city, are often conflated in the public’s mind. This can lead people to implicitly link the future fortunes of megacities (urban regions of more than 10 million people) with the success of global cities (defined roughly as a very important node at the high end of the global economy), especially as there’s overlap between the two types. They can then assume that the world’s emerging megacities will ultimately be successful, maybe even very successful.  read more »

From Jurisdictional to Functional Analysis of Urban Cores & Suburbs


The 52 major metropolitan areas of the United States are, in aggregate, approximately 86 percent suburban or exurban in function. This is the conclusion from our new City Sector Model, which divides all major metropolitan zip codes into four functional categories, based on urban form, population density and urban travel behavior. The categories are (1) Pre-Auto Urban Core, (2) Auto Suburban: Earlier, (3) Auto Suburban: Later and (4) Auto Exurban.  read more »

From Anecdotes to Data: Core & Suburban Growth Trends 2010-2013


According to the Wall Street Journal, there are "Signs of a Suburban Comeback." This is a turnaround from the typical media coverage of US population estimates in recent years, which have more often than not heralded a "return to the cities" generally more rooted in anecdote than data.

There were always at least two problems with the "return to the city" thesis. First of all, most people who live in the suburbs came from areas outside metropolitan areas and they couldn't return to where they had never lived (see Cities and Suburbs: The Unexpected Truth). More importantly, in every year for which there is data, the net inward migration to suburbs has been far greater than to the core counties, which have nearly always had net outward migration (see Special Report: 2013 Metropolitan Area Population Estimates. Under these conditions, there could not have been net migration from the suburbs to the core municipalities.  read more »

Is Something Wrong With Chicago’s Suburbs?


I previously talked about Connecticut becoming a suburban corporate wasteland as well as the rise of the executive headquarters in major global city downtowns.  read more »

Reversing American Decline

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Across broad ideological lines, Americans now foresee a dismal, downwardly mobile future for the country’s middle and working classes. While previous generations generally did far better than their predecessors, those in the current one, outside the very rich, are locked in a struggle to carve out the economic opportunities and access to property that had become accepted norms here over the past century.  read more »

Population Growth as the Cure for the Incredible Shrinking City?


The 1957 sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man reads like a Rust Belt city script. In it, the lead actor is afflicted with the anti-natural: shrinkage in a world of growth. The rest becomes existential. From the movie review blog “Twenty Four Frames”:  read more »

Thinking About Housing in the Northwest


With one of the most successful economies in the nation, the real estate news in the Pacific Northwest is positive and gives hope for a housing sector recovery, albeit at different rates in different markets. CNNMoney reports that from the third quarter in 2012 to the third quarter in 2013, the median home price in the Seattle-Bellevue and Everett area increased by 13.7%. The forecast for changes from the third quarter in 2013 to the third quarter in 2014 is another 5.2%.  read more »

Urban Core Jurisdictions: Similar in Label Only


The fortunes of U.S. core cities (municipalities) have varied greatly in the period of automobile domination that accelerated strongly at the end of World War II. This is illustrated by examining trends between the three categories of "historical core municipalities" (Figure 1).  read more »