The Exodus Continues

Today, the Census Bureau released its estimates of how metropolitan area populations have changed in the last year. Here's a pretty nice summary from MSNBC. Basically, it's exactly what you would expect if you've been following these trends. Of the 50 fastest growing areas, 27 were in the South, 20 in the West. Eight of the 10 fastest growing areas were in the South, which is growing a lot: "Four of these fast-growing Southern metro areas were not only among the top 10 in percent growth from 2006 to 2007 but also among the 20 largest numeric gainers during the same period."

Unfortunately, there isn't a breakdown here of suburban versus urban growth. The Census did release the top 100 fastest growing counties, but those are almost certainly biased towards suburban counties. Nevertheless, I'd bet (and when I have more time, I'll dig into the data sets and check) that despite the much vaunted renewal of urban cores, they account for a small fraction of population growth.

People come up with all number of reasons for these trends, both good and bad. But I think it's pretty undeniable that affordable housing is near the top, if not the most important reason. Urbanists and smart growth advocates like to crow about the liveability of older communities, but until they find a way to allow actual working families to afford them, the future of growth is in the suburban South. Only when we are free to build will the migration to more affordable places cease.


Share this


It's interesting how much my anecdotal impressions match up with the data. Atlanta has grown like gangbusters over the last decade. Charlotte as well; it airport now seems as big as O'Hare. I know people are leaving Miami and South Florida in general. Arizona and Las Vegas have similarly seen population (and real estate) booms over the last decade. I've also heard of a lot of people moving from the SF Bay Area to Sacramento though the data doesn't really mention this.

After another year and half when I finish my medical training, I was thinking of setting up shop in either Arizona or Las Vegas, betting on continued population growth (and a steady stream of patients) as socialist policies drive Californians to the desert. Nevada has no state income taxes. And it's warm in the Southwest. However, being the contrarian I am, South Florida might be ripe for the pickin' by that time.

I am the secret behind

I am the secret behind Atlanta's impressive growth. My false sense of self-importance is growing even as I write this post!