After Years of Decline, Cities Finally Surpass Suburban Growth
For the first time since the 1920s, cities across the country are experiencing faster growth rates than their suburban counterparts. According to a Time article, “27 of the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas exceeded their suburbs in population growth in the nine months between July 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012.
Topping the list of the fastest growing cities is New Orleans, with an urban population growth rate of 3.7% compared to a suburban population growth rate of 0.6%.
Minneapolis-St. Paul ranks 16th with an urban growth rate of 1.1% and a suburban growth rate of 1.0%. While the difference between urban and suburban population growth in the Twin Cities is slight, it is enough to show the major changes cities across the country are experiencing.
Several factors contribute to the change in growth rates. Between the recession and the ease of living in cities, the under 30 population are choosing urban life instead of purchasing homes in the suburbs.
For recent college graduates swamped with student loans and plagued by a poor job market, renting an apartment in a hip downtown is financially better and more socially appealing than purchasing a home in the family-oriented suburbs.
Even slightly older, yet still young, adults who are beginning to settle down and start families are choosing to stay in cities. As one urban couple put it, “everything is within a mile of our house—schools, parks, playgrounds, movies, drug stores.”
Living and working in cities, rather than living in the suburbs and working in cities offers an increased opportunity to enjoy one's home. A commute to work is only a few miles, rather than several miles sitting in traffic, a trip to the park can be a walk rather than a drive, and running to the drug store can literally mean running to the drug store.
Despite the appeal of cities, there is some debate over whether the recent resurgence of cities will last.
“Cities that market themselves well to young people and that offer job growth, cultural amenities, and access to rapid transit are likely to see continued growth,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institute. While some will ultimately leave the city as families begin to grow, many will remain and will be joined by a new class of young twenty-something’s looking to start a life away from the suburbs they grew up in.