Out of Control Policy Blog

About that urban renaissance

    Even amidst a strong economic expansion, the most recent census data reveal a renewed migration out of our urban centers. This gives considerable lie to the notion, popularized over a decade, that cities are enjoying a historic rebound. The newest figures are troubling on two accounts. Not only are the perennial losers -- Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit -- continuing to empty out, but some of our arguably most attractive cities, like Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Chicago, have lost population since 2000. Even New York, where foreign immigration has managed to counteract large scale outmigration, seems to be slowing down.

Continue reading Joel Kotkin's article, The Ersatz Urban Renaissance, here.

Bonus bit:

    [L]ong-established elite business centers, including Boston, New York and San Francisco, have seen little or no growth in either financial or professional business services since the national recovery began to take shape three years ago. This is in sharp contrast to the late 1990s dot-com boom, which created a sizable, albeit ultimately fleeting, surge in high-end employment. Nationally the economic outmigration also parallels the demographic one. Like people, jobs are shifting from the high-tax, expensive Northeast and coastal California to relatively affordable locales such as Phoenix, Reno, Las Vegas, Ft. Myers-Cape Coral, Fla., Boise, Idaho, and Provo, Utah.

Open most any newspaper's metro section and sooner or later you'll find an article that touts the supposed rebirth of various urban centers. Often the authors say empty-nesters just can't wait to get back to the city. This is true in some cases, but, like the urban renaissance meme in general, it's overstated.

Consider leisure time. I can't recall the exact figures, but one of empty-nesters favorite activities is gardening and it's much easier to tend to the begonias in the suburbs.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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