Where Have All the People Gone?

Comments Off on Where Have All the People Gone?
Where Have All the People Gone?

According to a study done at the University of Kansas Center for Applied Economics, the American population is becoming de-urbanized.1  This and other research studies reveal that the majority of people in the United States are moving away from large cities to smaller ones, and more specifically, to the exurban areas surrounding larger cities.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a study in 2009 called "Population Change in Central and Outlying Counties of Metropolitan Statistical Areas:  2000 to 2007"2 showing that the outlying areas of large cities — those areas beyond the traditional suburbs — grew more than 13 percent between 2000 and 2007, nearly double the average rate of the closer suburbs. 

Consider these specific examples:3

  • The exurbs of San Francisco experienced 25 times the growth of the inner counties.
  • New York City's exurbs grew 10 times faster than its suburbs.
  • For Chicago, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., the rate of growth of the exurbs was between two and three times that of the suburbs.

According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, about 17 million people (5.6 percent of the U.S. population) lived in the exurbs in 2007, compared with 14 million people in 2000.  Those areas experienced 31 percent growth in the 1990s.  The average home had 14 acres of land, compared with an average of eight-tenths of an acre per home in the nation as a whole.

The largest concentration of exurbanites is in the South and the Midwest, with almost half living in the South and about a fourth in the Midwest.  Proportionally, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Maryland have the largest populations of exurbanites, while Texas, California, and Ohio may have the largest absolute numbers.  The new exurbanites are predominantly white, middle-income commuters who own their own homes.

According to The Wall Street Journal,4 many of the exurban communities were hit hard by the recession.  In many places, the homes were thrown up in a frenzy of building fueled by cheap subprime adjustable mortgages.  People who could not otherwise afford a home flocked to them and were then blindsided when the economy collapsed and their mortgage payments doubled.  As a result, many of these communities are suffering the same fate that cities suffered after World War II, when single-family homes were divided into rental units and began decaying...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund