Post-Housing Bubble New Jersey: Cities Lead in Population Growth

After the bust of the housing market in 2008, a striking reversal of settlement patterns in New Jersey gives cities the lead in population growth over once-booming suburbs and exurbs.
July 22, 2012, 7am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Echoing trends seen across the U.S., Tim Evans, of New Jersey Future, writes on New Jersey's changing growth patterns. "Measured any of several ways," he reports, "the pattern is clear: Between 2008 and 2011, older, more urbanized, more built-out municipalities generally grew faster than less-developed suburban, exurban, and rural municipalities."

This data comes in the face of decades of population loss for many of New Jersey's inner cities, which continued their fall between 2000 and 2008, shrinking their share of the state's population from 66.4% in 1940 to 38.3% in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.

But since the housing bubble slowed the flow of population into the suburbs, cities are not only withstanding the economic slowdown, but are growing faster than the rest of the state. "These big cities had not come close to matching the statewide growth rate since before 1930," reports Evans, "They managed this feat by gaining, on average, 17 times as many new residents annually from 2008 to 2011 as they had between 2000 and 2008."

It appears, however, that unlike the nationwide data, a closer look at the absolute numbers confirms the significance of the trend.

"Considering that New Jersey is the most developed state in the nation," argues Evans, "this trend toward redevelopment of already-built areas and away from continued development of a dwindling supply of open land is good news. If any state is in need of a rethinking of the dominant development paradigm – or is better poised to capitalize on the alternative – it is New Jersey."

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Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in New Jersey Future
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