Friday, June 01, 2012

Still New York-centric after all these years

When it comes to U.S. cities, there is still this popular New York-centric view: 
But in the space of two short decades, the laws of urban physics have changed: Prosperous urbanites stopped fleeing the city core. Their universe ceased to expand. Gravity asserted itself and has again drawn in an affluent class that is remaking and restoring the inner city.
This is Joseph Abrams reviewing -- and also putting into perspective -- Alan Ehrenhalt's The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, in the June 2012 Commentary.

The NY Times recently included "A Gap in College Graduates Leaves Some Cities Behind."  They meant metropolitan areas.  Some are doing well and some are not.

But suburban growth still has a significant upper hand. Here are several Census tables that summarize 2010-2011 migration patterns in the U.S.  There were 302 million Americans over the age of one tabulated.  Of these, 267 million did not move but 35 million did (Table 1).  The net gains or losses for "principal cities" (largest cities in each metropolitan area) vs. the suburbs are shown.  Whereas the metropolitan areas as a whole showed a net gain of 115,000 (at the expense of non-metro areas), the suburbs as a whole gained 1.9 million while the principal cities as a whole lost 1.8 million (Table 15).

But what is most interesting is that the principal cities-suburb net balance is parsed by sex, age, race, relationship to householder, education, marital status, nativity, housing tenure, poverty status, income, labor force status, major occupation, major industry (90 categories in all).  The "principal city net migration" column showed minuses for 89 of them; "armed forces" was the only group with a plus in the column.

Yes, Manhattan and some other places bounced back in recent years.  But let's not lose sight of still dominant trend.