City & Suburban Trends: Sometimes it Helps to Look at the Data

Jonathan Weber writes that "Most demographic and market indicators suggest that growth and development across the country are moving away from the suburban and exurban fringe and toward center-cities and close-in suburbs," in an article for MSNBC entitled Demographic trends now favor downtown: Growth across the country moves away from suburban and exurban fringe.

One might wonder what country Weber is writing about. In the United States, growth and development continues to be concentrated in suburban and exurban areas. Moreover, strong domestic migration continues away from the center cities and close-in suburbs, as evidenced by the fact that between 2000 and 2008, 4.6 million domestic migrants left the core counties of the metropolitan areas over 1,000,000 population, while 2.0 million moved into the suburban counties.

The case is apparently furthered by the obligatory reference and photograph of The Model, Portland, Oregon. However, even in Portland, the suburbs are doing far better than the core. Since 2000, the suburbs have gained 106,000 domestic migrants, while the core county (Multnomah) has lost 4,000 domestic migrants. The IRS micro-data further indicates that the core continues to lose net domestic migration to the suburban counties.

It appears that the only trend indicating that the suburbs are losing out to central cities is the exponential increase in articles blindly parroting “death of the suburbs” dogma.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Geography may be anything of

Geography may be anything of an enigma to high of the earth, everywhere however seldom realized within it's complexity. It is woeful that it Window Treatements in Surprise AZ fundamental susceptible to humans is just not the selection of career fields.

Very good article.....venus

Very good article.....venus factor

Excellent publish.This is a

Excellent publish.This is a really wonderful site I wonder why one other of this sector never detect hairstyle half up half down

This article seems to imply

This article seems to imply that people are moving away from Portland, when in reality there has been a boom in housing construction there over the last decade.
phen375 reviews

Very good article......dirty

Very good article......dirty panties for sale

domestic migrants

I don't agree that domestic migration proves that "the suburbs are doing far better than the core." If 2,000 single adults move to Portland and 1,000 families move to the suburbs, there would be net negative domestic migration in terms of population, but a net increase in households and demand for housing units.

This article seems to imply that people are moving away from Portland, when in reality there has been a boom in housing construction there over the last decade. I would venture to guess that a demographic trend of young, childless adults moving to the city may explain a good part of the reason why.

Direct Links?

1) Multnomah County shows 8.2% growth since 2000-2008 (Census)

2) The city of Portland shows a moderate growth of 1.5% 2000-2006 (Census)

3) The city of Portland has added over 100,000 people from 1990-2003, a 25% growth rate:

4) Why are you using IRS tax information, and do you have any direct links to your statistics?

Answers for Wes


Thank you for the comments. Here are the answers:

(1) and (2): Your data is right and does not contradict anything in my article.

Here is the latest available data. The city grew 3 percent from 2000 to 2007; while the suburban areas of Multnomah County (outside the city) grew 12 percent over the same period (city estimates for 2008 will not be available from the Bureau of the Census for a few months). Overall, Multnomah County, including the city of Portland, grew 8 percent from 2000 to 2008. The suburban counties outside Multnomah grew 17 percent from 2000 to 2007.

(3) Portland’s 1990s growth was principally due to annexations. There was a large annexation to the southeast in the early 1990s, which added people who already were living there. Moreover, both in this annexation area and in another 1980s annexation (east and northeast), there was substantial greenfield growth in the 1990s. This is not core densification, which was the subject of the article.

(4) The only county to county migration data is from the Internal Revenue Service. The Bureau of the Census provides “net” migration data, but does not indicate where the people moved to or where they moved from. Lastly, we try to indicate data sources in all of our work.

Best regards,

Wendell Cox

Clarifications, questions...

1) Portland's main population gain from 1980s-90s was from annexations, however, 1990s-2000s was not primarily annexations. Washington and Clackamas Counties have both added a reasonable amount of people through annexations as well.

2) If your article is about core-city demographics, it seems erroneous to use a "wide" county such as Multnomah, considering it encompasses other cities like Gresham and Troutdale, which are very east of downtown. Many of the major cities of the metro area (in Washington, Clackamas, and Clark counties) are closer to the downtown core of Portland than some of the cities inside Mult. Co itself, which I feel would be pertinent to note when calling it a "core" county (even though Portland is home to it).

3) Of the 4,000 domestic migrants lost by Multnomah, how many were actually in the "core city"?

4) I was just curious if you had a direct link to the data you used that may be obtainable online. It sounds interesting.