Las Vegas, Birmingham & Salt Lake City Show Continuing Dispersion to Suburbs

Census data released in the last week indicates confirms the continuing dispersion of population away from the historical core municipalities (central cities) to the suburbs in the 2000 to 2010 decade. The new figures, for Las Vegas, Birmingham and Salt Lake City indicate that a majority of growth occurred in the suburbs in each metropolitan area and that the dispersion of population to the suburbs was greater in the 2000s in each case than in the 1990s.

Las Vegas: The Las Vegas metropolitan area continued to grow strongly, adding 41 percent to its population between 2000 and 2010. This, however, represents a more than halving of the growth rate from the 1990s (86 percent). The metropolitan area population in 2010 was 1,951,000, up from 1,376,000 in 2000.

The core municipality of Las Vegas of grew 22 percent between 2000 and 2010 (from 478,000 to 584,000). The core city of Las Vegas has an overwhelming suburban urban form, having experienced virtually all of its growth in the modern, car oriented era of suburbanization. During the 2000s, the land area of Las Vegas was expanded from 113 square miles to 131.

The suburbs grew 52 percent between 2000 and 2010. The suburbs attracted 82 percent of the metropolitan population growth, up from 65 percent in the 1990s. The suburbs now account for 70 percent of the Las Vegas metropolitan area population.

Birmingham: The Birmingham metropolitan area experienced a decline in growth rate from 10 percent in the 1990s to seven percent in the 2000s. The population increased from 1,052,000 to 1,128,000.

The historical core municipality of Birmingham declined eight percent, from 243,000 to 212,000. This loss of 13 percent is the largest yet recorded for a historical core municipality in a major metropolitan area. Birmingham’s population peaked at 341,000 in 1960. This loss of more than one-third in population between 1960 and 2010 is despite annexations that doubled the size of the city (from 75 to 150 square miles).

The suburbs gained 13 percent between 2000 and 2010 and captured 140 percent of the metropolitan area’s growth (up from 124 percent in the 1990s). The suburbs now account for 81 percent of the metropolitan population.

Salt Lake City: In the Salt Lake City metropolitan area growth declined to 16 percent in the 2000s from 26 percent in the 1990s. The population rose from 969,000 to 1,124,000.

The historical core municipality of Salt Lake City grew three percent (from 182,000 to 186,000). Salt Lake City reached its population peak at 189,000 in 1960. This modest loss occurred while the land area of the city nearly doubled (from 56 square miles to 109).

The suburbs gained 19 percent between 2000 and 2010. The suburbs attracted 97 percent of the metropolitan population growth, which is up from 89 percent in the 1990s.

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