Big Cities Continue To Grow

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May 24, 2016

For every article that comes out stating cities are growing faster than suburbs, another is released that states the opposite. One week cities are growing faster, the next week it’s suburbs. 

This time the data comes from new mid-decade Census Bureau statistics and supports the thought that big cities are continuing to grow. As Brookings.edu reports, between 2010 and 2015, the annual growth rates of cities with over half a million people were double the average annual rate that occurred between 2000 and 2010. This is a fancy way of saying the urban centers of the largest metro areas in the country are growing at faster rates than their surrounding suburban areas.

Since 2010, big cities have been growing at more than 1 percent a year. Between 2000 and 2010, the growth rate was 0.5 percent per year on average. Additionally, since 2010 cities have grown faster than suburbs.

Between 2011 and 2012, city growth outpaced suburban growth at a rate of 1.18 percent to 0.97 percent, creating the largest gap in the five-year period. However, between 2014 and 2015, city growth was still outpacing suburban growth with a growth rate of 1.06 percent to 1.00 percent.

Additionally, Sun Belt cities have grown faster, as have their surrounding suburbs, than snow belt cities, which continue to grow, albeit much slower. Growth has occurred so quickly in some Sun Belt locales that the suburbs have actually grown more quickly than some of the cities.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we are focusing too much on the rivalry between big cities and suburbs instead of the greater trends that seem to be on display; it is not so much the cities versus the suburbs, but the different regions of the country and the migration patterns associated with them that seem to be pulling all the strings here. After all, the growth rates of cities and suburbs play strongly into the greater patterns of migration from one region to another.

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