New Census Data Confirms: Suburban Areas Lead U.S. Growth

Post-recession population growth in the United States looks a lot like pre-recession growth in the United States. As some have predicted or already noticed: the story of U.S. growth is still suburban.

March 23, 2017, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Suburban School Crossing

rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock

"Population growth in big cities slowed for the fifth-straight year in 2016," reports Jed Kolko, in an initial analysis of U.S. Census Bureau statistics released earlier today. His pronunciation to accompany the data: "The suburbanization of America marches on."

To complete his analysis, Kolko grouped each of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties into six categories: "urban centers of large metropolitan areas; their densely populated suburbs; their lightly populated suburbs; midsize metros; smaller metro areas; and rural counties, which are outside metro areas entirely."

Of these six categories, Kolko found the fastest growth in the lower-density suburbs. "Those counties grew by 1.3 percent in 2016, the fastest rate since 2008, when the housing bust put an end to rapid homebuilding in these areas."

Kolko also says what you've probably been thinking while reading those findings: "Those figures run counter to the 'urban revival' narrative that has been widely discussed in recent years."

Kolko's analysis takes closer look at the data, finding which kinds of geographic areas are growing and which are shrinking. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017 in FiveThirtyEight

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