Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A topsy turvey decade for America's cities

We have seen the future and it will revolve around our cities. (GW)

Cities Grow as Housing Bust Slows Movement to Suburbs

By Connor Dougherty
Wall Street Journal
June 23, 2010

Several of the nation's biggest cities saw populations grow faster last year than any year in the 2000s as the recession and housing bust kept people from moving out of state or to the suburbs, the Census Bureau said.

The city of Chicago saw its population increase 0.8% between July 2008 and July 2009, the fastest pace of the decade, according to Census data released Tuesday.

Denver, Seattle and Dallas also posted their highest annual growth rates of the decade over the period. Of the 34 U.S. cities with more than 500,000 people, 19 grew faster last year than the year before, according to an analysis of Census data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

New York City, the nation's largest city with about 8.4 million people, continued to grow steadily. The city's population expanded 0.5% in 2009, compared with 0.4% a year earlier but down from 0.7% in 2007.

"This has been a topsy turvey decade for America's cities where housing bubbles, credit crunches and a prolonged recession have cooled down many suburban hotspots and permitted more traditional areas to recoup earlier losses," says Mr. Frey.

Earlier in the decade, several big cities, especially colder ones in the Midwest and Northeast, lost many of residents to warmer cities in the South and West. But a years-long decline in home prices combined with the worst recession in a generation has prompted would-be movers to stay in place, helping many cities hang onto their residents.

The housing bust has also kept many younger couples from moving to the suburbs, said Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute.

The reverse trend is playing out in once-hot housing markets. In Florida, an epicenter of the housing bust, two of the state's 19 cities with more than 100,000 people lost population in 2008-2009. Cape Coral saw its population decline 0.4% last year, a steeper tumble than Akron, Ohio, the rust-belt city that has long been losing population, including a 0.3% fall last year.

Other big cities in once-hot housing markets, such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, have seen population growth slow. Phoenix grew 1.5% from July 2008 to July 2009, the slowest pace of the decade. The city gained 24,000 people between 2008 and 2009 compared to a gain of nearly 41,000 between 2005 and 2006.

In Texas, where a milder housing bust and an economy buoyed by oil and gas industries shielded the state from the worst of the recession, population growth continues to outpace most of the rest of the nation. Four of the nation's ten fastest growing cities over 100,000 were in the state, including Frisco the nation's fastest growing city over 100,000.


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