Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Taking a Look at Metro America

The Brookings Institution recently released a report entitled "The State of American Cities and First Suburbs" (May 2005). The findings should be interesting to anyone concerned about urban America and life in large metropolitan areas.

I thought I would pass along some of the report's details for thought and discussion.

During the 1990s, the U. S. population presented stronger growth than at any time in the past forty years, growing by 33 million. Of this growth, 34.7% was the result of immigration.

At the same time, the share of the U. S. population that is foreign born is lower today as a percentage of the population than it was in 1900 (11.1% as compared to 13.6%).

While the U. S. population is aging, minority groups have younger age structures than do whites.

Demographic trends break down regionally in the U. S. "New Sunbelt" states (like Washington and Georgia) have grown largely due to domestic migration. "Melting Pot" states (like Texas, New York and California) have grown largely due to immigration. "Heartland" states (like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa) have remained fairly static.

The nation's ethnic distribution is interesting. Hispanics are concentrated in Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida and in "isolated urban pockets." Asians are concentrated in California and "isolated urban pockets." African Americans are concentrated in the South and industrial cities of the North. Whites are principally concentrated in the "heartland."

Imported goods outstripped exported goods by over $400 billion annually by 2000. In 1990, the totals were almost even.

U. S. investment in "new economy" industries is steadily rising. As innovation speeds up, "time-to-market" continues to fall rapidly for new products. These market factors make higher education more important today than ever before.

Large cities grew at a pace of 9.8% during the 1990s, faster than in the previous two decades. As a result, several large cities grew during the 1990s after losing population during the 1980s (among these were Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and Memphis). Interestingly, cities located in growing metro areas grew, while those in slow growth metro areas generally declined.

Population is decentralizing in nearly every U. S. metropolitan area. As the cities have grown by 8.8% nationally, the suburbs have experienced a 17% rate of growth through the 1990s. Every household type grew faster in the suburbs than in cities. First Suburbs are growing much slower than all other suburbs and at a rate about like that of cities.

Central city growth was fueled largely by Asians and Hispanics from 1990 to 2000. Without immigration, several of the nation's largest cities would not have grown during the 1990s, including Dallas, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago and Boston. During the decade, immigration increased by 49% in both cities and First Suburbs.

The racial makeup of the 100 largest U. S. cities has shifted. In 1990 53% of those living in these cities were white, 24% were black, 17% were Hispanic, 6% were other. By 2000, 44% were white, 24% were black, 23% were Hispanic, 7% were Asian and the remainder multi-racial.

In many areas the locus of immigration is shifting from the central city to the suburbs. The percentage of each racial/ethnic groups living in the suburbs increased substantially (39% of blacks, 55% of Asians and 50% of Hispanics). Every minority group grew at faster rates in the suburbs than in the central cities. More than 1 in 4 suburban families are minority. A third of First Suburb residents are racial minorities.

Nationally, 78% of the jobs are found over 3 miles outside the central business district with 35% found over 10 miles away.

Poverty is on the rise in our metropolitan areas, growing from 19.3% in 1980 to 25.8% in 2000.

Surprisingly, poverty rates have declined in our central cities over the decade, while rates in the suburbs have grown slightly. The share of suburban residents living in poor suburbs increased by almost 10% over the past two decades.

The number of people living in high poverty neighborhoods declined in the 1990s. For example, the number of high-poverty census tracts in Chicago dropped from 187 to 114, with 178,000 fewer people living in high poverty areas.

Predictably, neighborhoods of concentrated poverty increased in First Suburbs.

The report asks what all of this might mean for the U. S. housing market and housing development.

A few conclusions about housing:

Do not cluster affordable homes in low-income neighborhoods, especially at the core of the city.

Find ways to enable low-income households to live closer to the employment centers and better schools.

Realize that income policy is housing policy.

Local leaders should take steps to impact household incomes that will stimulate the housing market. Leaders should work to raise the incomes of working families through the Earned Income Tax Credit, nutrition assistance, health care and child care.

We need to think of affordable housing as workforce housing. Eliminate or moderate regulatory barriers to workforce housing development. Provide incentives to developers to produce more affordable housing. Create inclusionary housing policies to improve the supply of workforce housing.

Implement policies that do not reinforce patterns of segregation and discrimination.

Be aware that "color blind" policies may not work as intended if segregation and ethnic economic inequalities are ignored by public policy leaders.

Lots to think about here. Much work to be done.


shane said...

Can you define a First Suburb vs. a suburb?

Larry James said...

"First suburbs" are those initial suburban communities that form the first circle around urban centers. For example in Dallas, Richardson, Irving, Garland, DeSoto, Duncanville--these are first suburbs. New communities are now ringing these first "layers" of suburban growth. "First suburbs" are exactly that, the first suburban communities that extend out from urban areas and thus, the oldest suburban communities.

Jeremy Gregg said...

In response to the first two conclusions about housing:

"Do not cluster affordable homes in low-income neighborhoods, especially at the core of the city.

Find ways to enable low-income households to live closer to the employment centers and better schools. "

I am probably misunderstanding something, but does this create a discrepency when the employment centers are at the core of the city? Or is the article indicating that affordable housing should not be clustered together, and that mixed income housing would be preferable?



Larry James said...

Thanks, Jeremy. The fact is, according to this report, employment opportunities tend to be away from the central core for the most part. The other matter you raise, you also answer. Mixed income housing, like we are attempting on Hall Street, is the answer.