Forget What the Pundits Tell You, Coastal Cities are Old News - it’s the Sunbelt that’s Booming


Ever since the Great Recession ripped through the economies of the Sunbelt, America’s coastal pundit class has been giddily predicting its demise. Strangled by high-energy prices, cooked by global warming, rejected by a new generation of urban-centric millennials, this vast southern region was doomed to become, in the words of the Atlantic, where the “American dream” has gone to die. If the doomsayers are right, Americans must be the ultimate masochists. After a brief hiatus, people seem to, once again, be streaming towards the expanse of warm-weather states extending from the southeastern seaboard to Phoenix.  read more »

Major Metropolitan Commuting Trends: 2000-2010


As we indicated in the last article, solo automobile commuting reached an all time record in the United States in 2010, increasing by 7.8 million commuters. At the same time, huge losses were sustained by carpooling, while the largest gain was in working at home, which includes telecommuting. Transit and bicycling also added commuters.  This continues many of the basic trends toward more personalized employment access that we have seen since 1960.  read more »

Biggest Boomer Towns


The boomer generation, spawned (literally) in the aftermath of the Second World War, will continue to shape the American landscape well into the 21st Century. They may be getting older, but these folks are still maintaining their power. Those born in the first ten years of the boomer generation  — between 1945 and 1955 — number 36 million, and they will continue to influence communities and real estate markets across the country, especially as they contemplate life after kids and retirement.  read more »

The Next Boom Towns In The U.S.


What cities are best positioned to grow and prosper in the coming decade?

To determine the next boom towns in the U.S., with the help of Mark Schill at the Praxis Strategy Group, we took the 52 largest metro areas in the country (those with populations exceeding 1 million) and ranked them based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality.  read more »

Rethinking Urban Dynamics: Lessons from the Census


Much has been made of the vaunted “back to the city” movement by “the young and restless,” young professionals, the creative class, empty nesters and others were voting with their feet in favor of cities over suburbs.  Although there were bright spots, the Census 2010 results show that the trend was very overblown, affecting mostly downtown and near downtown areas, while outlying ones bled population.  One culprit for this discrepancy seems to be that the intra-census estimates supplied by the Census Bureau were inflated – in some cases very inflated.  read more »

Regional Exchange Rates: The Cost of Living in US Metropolitan Areas


International travelers and expatriates have long known that currency exchange rates are not reliable indicators of purchasing power. For example, a traveler to France or Germany will notice that the dollar equivalent in Euros cannot buy as much as at home. Conversely, the traveler to China will note that the dollar equivalent in Yuan will buy more.  read more »

Time to Hate Those HOAs (again).


The foreclosure crisis has been devastating for millions of Americans, but it has also impacted many still working as before and holding on to their homes. Even a couple of empty dwellings on a street can very quickly deteriorate and become a negative presence in the neighborhood, at the least driving down prices further, sometimes attracting crime. Untended pools can allow pests to breed. Many animals have been abandoned and shelters report overflowing traffic.  read more »

The Housing Bubble: The Economists Should Have Known


Paul Krugman got it right. But it should not have taken a Nobel Laureate to note that the emperor's nakedness with respect to the connection between the housing bubble and more restrictive land use regulation.  read more »

The Declining Human Footprint


There are few more bankrupt arguments against suburbanization than the claim that it consumes too much agricultural land. The data is so compelling that even the United States Department of Agriculture says that "our Nation's ability to produce food and fiber is not threatened" by urbanization. There is no doubt that agricultural production takes up less of the country's land than it did before. But urban “sprawl” is not the primary cause. The real reason lies in the growing productivity of American farms.

Since 1950, an area the size of Texas plus Oklahoma (or an area almost as large as France plus Great Britain) has been taken out of agricultural production in the United States, not including any agricultural land taken by new urbanization (Note 1). That is enough land to house all of the world's urban population at the urban density level of the United Kingdom.  read more »

Arizona's Short-Sighted Immigration Bill


Arizona's recent passage of what is widely perceived as a harsh anti-immigrant bill reflects a growing tendency--in both political parties--to focus on the here and now, as opposed to the future. The effort to largely target Latino illegal aliens during a sharp recession may well gain votes among an angry, alienated majority population, but it could have unforeseen negative consequences over time.  read more »