The Great Recession ended nearly three years ago, yet Americans are continuing to avoid moving to the once fast-growing locations at the outer edges of metropolitan areas, the US Census Bureau says.
"Population growth in fringe counties nearly screeched to a halt in the years that ended July 1, 2011," USA Today reports. "By comparison, counties at the core of metro areas are growing faster than the nation as a whole.
"There's a pall being cast on the outer edges," John McIlwain, senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, told the newspaper. "The foreclosures, the vacancies, the uncompleted roads. It's uncomfortable out there. The glitz is off."
"The country’s outer suburbs, often referred to as the exurbs by demographers, were at the forefront of the country’s population growth for most of the last decade," The New York Times observes. The (less than robust) economic recovery has has not revived population growth in those areas.
According to an analysis by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, population in the country’s outer suburbs grew at just 0.4 percent in the year ended last July, down from 1 percent in the previous year and a peak in 2006 of more than 2 percent.
The Times says that of the 100 fastest-growing outer suburban counties, all but two grew more slowly in 2010 and 2011 than in 2006 and 2007. "This could be the end of the exurb as a place where people aspire to go when they're starting their families," USA Today quoted Frey as saying. "So many people have been burned by this. … First-time home buyers, immigrants and minorities took a real big hit."
The new Census figures are consistent with forecasts by analysts such as Arthur C. Nelson that have been reported on previously by Better! Cities & Towns.
“Our organization has long advocated for walkable neighborhoods with smart growth features, and this news confirms that they’re even more popular than we realized,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “But it’s not enough for us to look at this data and do nothing about it–we have to take advantage of its momentum. If the U.S. is going to get back on track and continue to compete globally, we must change how the country invests in and legislates around real estate and transportation.”
The USA Today article includes a revealing set of Census maps contrasting population growth by county in 2006 and 2011.
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