Monday, June 26, 2006

Suburban population growth trends continue

A colleague sent me a link to a news article about the latest Census Bureau estimates, which confirm recent ongoing trends of suburban population growth and urban plateauing. The fastest-growing city in America is Elk Grove, California, a suburb of Sacramento that wasn't even incorporated six years ago:

Americans have been moving west and south for decades, and last year was no different. All but three of the 50 fastest-growing cities from 2004 to 2005 were in those regions of the country, with many in California and Florida, according to Census Bureau estimates Wednesday. The estimates were for cities with populations of 100,000 or more.

Elk Grove was followed in the top five by North Las Vegas, Nevada; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Gilbert, Arizona, and Cape Coral, Florida.

All five are suburban, and all have fewer than 200,000 residents.
The article goes on to note that major cities continue to lose residents. Since 2000, Detroit has lost 65,000 people, Philadelphia 50,000, and San Francisco 37,000. While New York has had net gains of 135,000 people since 2000, it has lost 21,500 in just the period from 2004 to 2005.

This corroborates data I found in my research that while metropolitan areas as a whole are growing, the majority of the growth is in suburban and exurban areas, not the urban cores. For example, in the last decade, the city of Atlanta gained 23,000 people, while the surrounding suburbs grew by 1.1 million.

The sheer numbers reinforce what has been increasingly true for several decades. Suburbia is significant, and is likely the dominant landscape of the 21st century. For more than half of the population, it's a suburban world.

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