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The Great Recession only paused suburbanization

According to newly released US census data for 2010-2017 – which Brookings analyzed here – the “back to the city” movement appears to have peaked in 2012. (This is something that we’ve looked at before on the blog.)

Here is a graph from Brookings showing the annual growth rate for urban and suburban counties. Note how growth in the “urban core” peaked in 2012 and how growth in both the “emerging suburb” and “exurb” have increased since then.


The other finings from Brookings are that growth has slowed in large metropolitan areas (small metro areas and non metro areas, on the other hand are up) and that people are continuing to move from the Snow Belt to the Sun Belt.

If you look at population gains and losses from 2016-2017 for the 100 largest US metro areas, the only Snow Belt gainers within the top 20 are New York (15th), Columbus (19th), and Boston (20th). Dallas, a Sun Belt city, was first with a gain of 146,000 people.

So what’s going on? The narrative is that soon as the US economy and housing market recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, the trend lines simply reverted back to business as usual: sun and sprawl.

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