Major U.S. Metro Areas in a Transition Period, According to Census Analysis

The nation's growth slowed from 2010 and 2020, according to 2020 Census data, and demographers are still trying to figure out what population trends mean for the future of country's major metropolitan areas.

1 minute read

June 8, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Maricopa County, Arizona

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William H. Frey provides insights into the growth, diversity, segregation, and aging trends in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, as reported by the 2020 Census.

As noted by Frey, the nation’s largest metropolitan areas—with 1 million residents and more—are home to six in ten Americans, and that total is only increasing as major metro areas grew faster than smaller metro areas from 2010 to 2020.

“Moreover, the increased racial and ethnic diversity that characterized the nation is especially concentrated in major metro areas and, in particular, among their youth populations,” writes Frey.

A few other key findings from the article (which synthesizes information presented in a longer report published by Brookings Mountain West), with more detail provided in the source article below:

  • Major metro areas grew more slowly since 2010 than in several previous decades.
  • The fastest growing metro areas are in the Sun Belt
  • Cities grew faster and suburbs slower when compared to the previous decade of the 2000s.
  • All major metro areas became more racially and ethnically diverse
  • Neighborhood segregation varied by metro area
  • The youth population declined and became more diverse

“This analysis of the 2020 census makes plain that the 2010-2020 period represents a transitional decade for the nation’s major metro areas,” according to Frey. That transition “does not lead to a straightforward forecast about [metro areas’] future prospects.”

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