Sunbelt cities thrive as megacities bleed population

More than half of American cities have recorded a population loss over the past year as people flock to the suburbs and suburbs in what demographers say is among the first signs that pandemic-era attitudes are turning forever.

new numbers From the US Census Bureau and real estate tracking company Zillow, they show that smaller suburbs have been more likely to add new residents over the past year, at the expense of larger cities on their borders.

The two cities with the fastest growth last year, Georgetown and Leander, Texas, are both suburbs of Austin. In both cases, its population grew by 10 percentage points. New Braunfels, located south of Austin and north of San Antonio, saw its population grow to 98,857, up 8.3 percent from last year.

The Phoenix suburbs of Queen Creek, Buckeye, and Maricopa, along with the Casa Grande suburbs, all landed among the ten fastest growing cities. So did North Port, Florida, between Sarasota and Fort Myers, and Spring Hill, Tenn, south of Nashville.

Boise, Idaho added just 1,617 people last year, but three suburbs — Meridian, Caldwell and Nampa — saw their populations grow more than 5 percent.

San Antonio, Phoenix, Fort Worth and Port St. Lucy, Florida, each added more than 10,000 residents last year, more than anywhere else in the country, as Americans continue to flock to the Sunbelt states. These cities are large enough that the overall population increase has not put them on the list of the fastest growing.

Population figures from the Census Bureau show that some of the country’s largest cities also recorded the largest population declines last year. More than 305,000 people have moved out of New York City, an overall population reduction greater than any other city. San Francisco recorded the largest population drop in percentage terms, dropping 6.3 percent to a decline of 54,000 people.

Los Angeles and Chicago each lost more than 40,000 residents. Of the ten largest cities in the country, only San Antonio and Phoenix have grown.

At the same time, suburban areas outside of those big cities are among the hottest housing markets in the country, according to data from Zillow.

While Seattle’s population fell by 4,200 last year, two of the five most popular real estate markets in the country are located in the northern Seattle suburbs of Edmonds and Woodinville. The populations of Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia, have declined, but Burke, Virginia, just outside the Capitol Beltway, ranks as the second hottest market in the country.

The suburbs of Denver, Tampa, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and St. Louis were among the most popular markets; Of their metro areas, only Tampa grew last year.

For the first time in recent memory, housing prices in many nearby suburbs have risen faster than prices in core urban areas, says melancholy Nicole Bashod, an economist at Zillow.

“People don’t necessarily have to live close to work anymore, and that really opened the door,” Baschod said in an interview Friday. “Now that we’re entering the third year of the pandemic, people are making those long-term decisions now that they have that clarity.”

In total, 424 of the 795 US cities with more than 50,000 residents lost their residents in the past year.
Some demographers said they were not surprised by the decline in urban populations and the shift to the suburbs.

“When Covid struck, deaths rose in some urban cores, while births declined modestly. Consequently, there was less natural increase and less immigration,” said Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. However, local migration from many urban centers has risen because more people are leaving – in some cases to rural areas or small towns – and the flow of young people to the centers is likely to slow.”

Six of those 795 large cities registered more than 100,000 residents for the first time, according to Census Bureau figures: along with Goodyear and Buckeye, Ariz. , residents of Bend, Ore. , Fisherers and Carmel, Ind. , and Tuscaloosa, Ala. , now measured in six digits.