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Census: Cities Growing Faster Than Suburbs

Historically the one-year data may be an aberration as suburbs have outgrown cities for every decade since the 1920s. It may be as much a consequence of the recession and housing bust as a preference for urban living, but builders are responding.
June 29, 2012, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Conor Dougherty and Robbie Whelan report on census data released June 28 covering the year July 2010 to July 2011.

"According to Census data, in 27 of the nation's 51 largest metropolitan areas, city centers grew faster than suburbs between . By contrast, from 2000 to 2010 only five metro areas saw their cores grow faster than the surrounding suburbs", said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

The turnaround, if only temporary, is apparent in Chicago.

"That city grew by 8,800 residents, or about 0.3%, from July 2010 to July 2011, compared with an average annual loss of 20,000 people between 2000 and 2010. "I suspect the modest growth of the urban cores is a short-term phenomenon," Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, said.

"Home builders are betting that there is a longer-term shift under way. Three of the largest publicly traded U.S. home-building companies: Toll Brothers Inc., Lennar Corp. and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. have in recent years built mid-rise and high-rise condominium towers in urban areas looking to capitalize on consumers' rising distaste for long commute times and interest in housing that is closer to cities' cultural and job centers."

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Published on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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