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Legal but Still Poor: The Economic Consequences of Amnesty

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 18:50

With his questionably Constitutional move to protect America’s vast undocumented population, President Obama has provided at least five million immigrants, and likely many more, with new hope for the future. But at the same time, his economic policies, and those of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, may guarantee that many of these newly legalized Americans will face huge obstacles trying to move up in a society creating too few opportunities already for its own citizens, much less millions of the largely ill-educated and unskilled newcomers.

Democratic Party operatives, and their media allies, no doubt see in the legalization move a step not only to address legitimate human needs, but their own political future. With the bulk of the country’s white population migrating rapidly to the GOP, arguably the best insurance for the Democrats is to accelerate the racial polarization of the electorate. It might be good politics but we need to ask: what is the fate awaiting these new, and prospective, Americans?

In previous waves of immigration, particularly during the early 20th Century, there were clear benefits for both newcomers and the economy. A nation rapidly industrializing needed labor, including the relatively unskilled, and, with the help of the New Deal and the growth of unions, many of these newcomers (including my own maternal grandparents) achieved a standard of living, which, if hardly affluent, was at least comfortable and moderately secure.

Demand for labor remained strong during the big immigrant wave of the 1980s until the Great Recession. The country was building houses at a rapid clip, which required a large amount of immigrant labor. Service industries, particularly before the onset of digital systems, such as ipads for ordering, that replace human staff in fast-food restaurants, tend to hotels and provide personal services, although often at low wages.

More recently, this wave of undocumented migration has diminished, as economic prospects, particularly for the low-skilled, have weakened. Yet the undocumented population remains upwards eleven million. Largely unskilled and undereducated, roughly half of adults 25 to 64 in this population have less than a high-school education compared to only 8 percent of the native born. Barely ten percent have any college, one third the national rate.

This workforce is being legalized at a time of unusual economic distress for the working class. Well into the post-2008 recovery, the country suffers from rates of labor participation at a 36 year low. Many jobs that were once full-time are, in part due to the Affordable Care Act, now part-time, and thus unable to support families. Finally there are increasingly few well-paying positions—including in industry—that don’t require some sort of post-college accreditation.

Sadly, the legalization of millions of new immigrants could make all these problems worse, particularly for Latinos already here and millions of African-Americans.

African-American unemployment is now twice that of whites. The black middle class, understandably proud of Obama’s elevation, has been losing the economic gains made over the past thirty years.

Latino-Americans have made huge strides in previous decades, but now are also falling behind, with a gradual loss of income relative to whites. Poverty among Latino children in America has risen from 27.5 percent in 2007 to 33.7 percent in 2012, an increase of 1.7 million minors.

Logically, many Latinos and African-Americans might suspect that amnesty won’t be a great deal for them. There are occasional signs of disquiet. A recent Pew survey found that not only half of all whites, but nearly two-fifths of African Americans and roughly even a third of Hispanics approved of increased deportations of the undocumented. A Wall Street Journal-NBC poll found that well less than half of Latinos supported the President’s action.

This ambivalence may reflect the reality that legalization of the undocumented may be felt hardest in those places, such as California, that have attracted the most newcomers, and also have highly developed welfare states. Today public agencies in Los Angeles, with an estimated one million undocumented immigrants, are bracing from large increases in the demand for state provided services.

One LA Supervisor estimates the County, facing “an already impossible fiscal dilemma,” will need to spend an additional $190 million, without hope of federal compensation, on the newly legalized population. Ultimately, the newest migrants will be competing with existing residents—particularly poorer ones—not only for jobs but also social services.

The President’s action on immigration requires a profound shift in economic policy, particularly in the large urban centers where most undocumented are clustered, to avoid creating a squeeze on scarce jobs and services. But Obama’s other big agenda—addressing climate change—has slowed the expansion of fossil fuel development. Meanwhile, it’s the energy sector that creates precisely the kinds of high-paying blue collar jobs, averaging upwards of $100,000 annually, that immigrants might be eager to fill and could give low unskilled workers a foothold into the middle class.

Similarly, efforts by Obama’s allies at Federal agencies like HUD to encourage dense housing and discourage suburban growth means far less construction employment, one of the largest generators of good blue collar jobs and opportunities.

Ironically, the places where the cry for amnesty has been the loudest—New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago—also tend to be those places that have created the least opportunity for the urban poor. This is in part due to the fact that these areas have tended to de-industrialize the most rapidly, discourage fledgling grassroots businesses through high taxes, environmental and housing, regulations.

Whatever their noble intentions, these cities generally suffer the largest degree of income inequality, notes a recent Brookings study. In fact, according to an analysis by Mark Schill at the Praxis Strategy Group, African-American incomes in New York are barely half those of whites and, in San Francisco somewhat below half. In contrast, cities with broader economies like Dallas and Houston, have black populations earning sixty five percent of white incomes. Similarly, Latinos in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco do far worse, relative to incomes, than their Sunbelt counterparts, compared to whites.

These trends could worsen in precisely those areas with the biggest concentrations of undocumented immigrants covered by Obama’s executive order.

Take, for example, the borough of the Bronx in New York City. The most Latino of all New York’s counties, in the Bronx, roughly one in three households live in poverty, the highest rate of any large urban county.

In the country. It’s doubtful that legalization absent job growth will improve conditions , as it adds more potential claimants for local benefits without creating new income sources.

For reasons that can’t be purely economic, most Latino political leaders, and much of the group’s electorate, are in favor of policies that, over time, could doom prospects for Those who receive amnesty. Of course, there are other factors that play into support for these policies, like the emotional pull to reunite families, but whatever their appeal such measures could leave the very people they are meant to help as legal paupers.

My adopted home region of Southern California has seen an almost 14% drop in high-wage blue-collar jobs since 2007. Deindustrialization has continued, and construction employment lagged, even while the country as a whole, sparked by more secure and now cheaper energy supplies, has seen industrial production improve since 2010.

Herein lies the great dilemma then for the advocates of amnesty. In much of the country, and particularly the blue regions, they will find very few decent jobs but often a host of programs designed to ease their poverty. The temptation to increase the rolls of the dependent—and perhaps boost Democratic turnouts—may prove irresistible for the local political class.

So what should we do under these circumstances? Constitutional arguments aside, there do seem to be some better ways to create conditions for upward mobility among newcomers.

Higher minimum wages may help some of the legal residents, but arguably at the cost of new jobs for others including the newly amnestied. However popular with most voters, such redistributive measures will not address the fundamental economic challenge posed by amnesty.

Perhaps a sounder strategy would be to adopt policies that encourage broad-based economic growth, including energy, manufacturing, logistics and home construction. This would, of course, require some moderation of regulatory standards, particularly in reference to climate change.

The President’s recent deal with China, which essentially allows the Chinese to keep boosting emissions until 2030 while we reduce ours steeply, could make things worse. In some states like California, where the global warming consensus is beheld with theological rigidity, “green,” anti-suburban policies largely guarantee that most of the urban poor will never enter the middle class. In San Francisco, Boston and New York, the percentage of Latino and black homeowners is roughly one-third to one-half that seen in redder regions like Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Atlanta.

In essence, the deepest blue states have created the worst of all conditions for the urban poor, and will be particularly tough on undocumented residents granted amnesty.

All this suggests that, if we are to make new Americans economically successful, we need to concentrate not on racial redress but find ways to spark broad based economic growth. Increasing use of inexpensive natural gas, for example, would not only help continue to reduce emissions but would spark an industrial expansion that would create more blue collar jobs. Similarly, policies that allowed for affordable, energy efficient new homes could create not only more blue collar employment possibilities, but a brighter future for young families, many of whom are themselves immigrants or their children.

The current amnesty could benefit both the country overall as well as recent immigrants if it is tacked to a broad based economic growth strategy. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Instead, continuing policies that inhibit broad-based economic growth are increasing the numbers of Americans who must depend on government, not the economy, to take care of themselves and their families.

This piece originally appeared at The Daily Beast.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Photo by telwink

The Other Side of the Tracks

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 21:38

I tend to fixate on certain places – sometimes because I love them, other times because I can’t help but stare at twisted wreckage. Lancaster, California has always been 30/70 leaning toward wreckage, although it does show signs of ongoing reinvention so I keep going back. Lancaster is highly representative of most places in suburban America. If Lancaster can successfully adapt to changing circumstances then there’s hope for the rest of the country. I’ve already written several blog posts about the place hereherehere, and here.



Recently Mayor Rex Parris has been in the news suggesting that the MetroLink commuter rail station should either be shut down or moved to the far edge of the city limits. Why? Well… Lancaster is a typical suburb. In fact it’s a far flung exurb with a self-selecting population who left the city in order to escape certain things and particular kinds of people. You know where I’m going with this right? The proverbial “wrong element” whispered by terrified white people who are nervous about their property values and crime. I have no idea what Mr. Parris himself believes one way or another, but he’s genuinely good at representing the concerns of his constituency. In this instance the electorate felt that the wrong kinds of folks were taking the train from downtown Los Angeles and showing up in Lancaster where they proceed to loiter in a disagreeable manner. These weren’t “our kind of people”. After a period of review between the mayor and various agencies it was announced that the MetroLink station would remain, although there were hints at new procedures and assurances of an unspecified nature.

 Photo Credit: Google Earth

This got me thinking about the neighborhoods immediately around the train station. To the west of the tracks is an eight block commercial strip referred to as The BLVD. It was once a floundering half dead Main Street that was completely revamped by the local planning department in 2010 and has enjoyed remarkable success on multiple levels. The adjacent streets of single family homes have gotten a boost in popularity and higher property value while the rest of the Antelope Valley is still struggling unsuccessfully to recover from the 2008 crash.


But then there’s the east side of the tracks… These photos look like an Edward Hopper retrospective: bleak, empty, soulless, and unloved. No one has spent ten cents on this part of town in decades and it shows, yet it’s only a block from the beginning of The BLVD. and it’s pressed up against the back side of the train station. In another kind of town this might constitute prime real estate, or at least a place that had a little something going on. After all, the commuter train gives you direct convenient access to everything greater Los Angeles has to offer from jobs to culture. But in Lancaster it’s mostly vacant land, underutilized parking lots, semi-occupied warehouses, and marginal low value businesses. That’s not to say that people don’t live, work, attend church, and go to school in the nearby blocks. They’re just doing so without the benefit of any viable civic infrastructure.

There may be good reasons why extending The BLVD east to the other side of the tracks won’t work. Aside from any physical or political limitations Lancaster may not be able to absorb much more in the way of upscale dining and discretionary shopping. I’ve had conversations with locals who say they can’t afford a $25 Italian dinner or a $6 beer at a trendy brew pub. Maybe eight blocks of good quality brick and mortar establishments is all Lancaster can handle at the moment. I’ve also heard that developers think the local real estate market might be able to absorb another fifty urban style condo/apartments near The BLVD. But five hundred? They just don’t know since this is terra incognita for them and their traditional business model. But the east side of the tracks might be the perfect place to establish an entirely different kind of environment at a lower price point that actually works for the people who already live nearby. Yucca Ave. runs parallel to the railroad tracks rather than perpendicular like The BLVD. More importantly, it’s an area the theater and chardonnay crowd never sees and doesn’t care about so it’s a great place to do some low cost, low risk, potentially high return experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.


The city of Lancaster spent $10.5 million on the redevelopment of The BLVD, plus some state and federal funds. Personally, I can’t see the city mustering the political will to scrape together that kind of money to transform Yucca Ave. in a similar fashion. Instead, I see the back alleys and vacant parking lots as incubators for local micro-entrepreneurs who will interact with the people who live next door and down the street. It’s less about making everything “pretty” and more about making the place vibrant and productive at a scale that works on a tight budget. Yucca is just too big and wide and needs too much major help to be saved at the moment. But the backs and sides of these commercial buildings actually have a human scale and can be connected to the smaller more domestic streets and buildings they face across the alley.


Here’s one possible model that Lancaster might try along Yucca. This is a crappy triangular parking lot in San Francisco sandwiched between a double decker freeway and a Costco. I can’t imagine a worse location for anything. But a clever entrepreneur decided to rent the parking lot, install a few port-a-potties and hand washing stations, set up some inexpensive outdoor furniture, and then charge a modest rent for parking spaces to a rotating cast of local food trucks. It’s been fantastically successful and unlike The BLVD it costs almost nothing to install. This kind of operation does best in a marginal location with no NIMBYs or brick and mortar competition. Food trucks are infinitely less expensive to buy and operate than a traditional restaurant so the bar to entry is much lower for small business people. If the bank says no to a modest loan it’s possible to get start up capital from an aunt or cousin. In fact, these are most likely to be collaborative family businesses. The food these trucks serve is radically more affordable and can represent the specific tastes of the community in a way that McDonald’s or Domino’s may not – and the profits stay local rather than being sucked out to corporate headquarters. All the city of Lancaster would need to do is keep out of the way and let small business people do their thing without an endless amount of code enforcement to gum up the works.


Here’s a different approach that might work even better since I’ve never actually seen a food truck anywhere in the Antelope Valley. My guess is that they’re illegal and/or can’t find a hospitable spot to park given the relentless and pervasive “mall security” guarding the Taco Bells and Applebees. This is the Underground Food Market in Oakland. This is a pop up market that appears quickly and then melts away in a single day. Both the vendors and the customers are told the date of the next event, but only alerted to the exact location at the last moment in order to keep code enforcement people unaware long enough to actually conduct business for an afternoon. None of these people use anything more elaborate than folding tables and barbecue equipment and it all fits in the trunk of a car or a pick up truck. Does this sort of thing violate a dozen health, safety, and zoning regulations? Yep. Has anyone ever gotten sick or died? Nope. If Lancaster could find a way to legitimize this sort of activity they might discover a ready supply of people in the neighborhood who would bring their talents to bear.


I want to get back to the idea of human scale and how the best parts of Yucca are the little spaces between and around the buildings instead of the big parking lots and super wide street frontage. Everywhere I go in the world I find some of the best streets are barely wide enough for a car to pass through – and that’s part of the magic. I could see stretching some sun shades over the top of these alleys in Lancaster and lining the blank walls with shallow market stalls. This is an economic incubator that costs pennies and could lead to bigger and more permanent local businesses. The trick is to get the entry cost for experimentation down low enough to engage people without much capital or credit. Will this sort of thing terrify suburban homeowners out in the gated communities? Yep. Will they care if it happens in the “bad” part of town that they never visit? Maybe not…


Here’s another example of a reuse of an existing space with very little actual construction. Property values are so high and vacancies are so low in places like San Francisco that every crappy building in every marginal location is being pressed into service for things that no one would have envisioned twenty years ago. Lancaster could do exactly the same thing at a much lower price point. I don’t imagine the wine and cheese crowd being interested in Yucca anytime soon, but there are all sorts of other subcultures that would love this much space to tinker with for their legitimate enterprises so long as the local authorities cut them some slack. What most of these empty warehouses in Lancaster need is fresh paint and the right people to colonize them. The trouble with lone mom and pop operations in this sort of desolate location is that without community and other active participants they tend to wither. Lancaster desperately needs a well organized group to adopt this place. Koreans, Mormons, Armenians, Hasidic Jews, Guatemalans… it needs a La Raza, a Chinatown, or a respectable gay population – any cohesive subculture that can reimagine the place and add vitality in a focussed and concentrated manner. Would it kill city officials to hang out the welcome mat instead of freaking out when “They” appear at the train station?


Here’s one last example of a seriously bad location that is starting to be transformed in a way that cost the city almost nothing. Flora Grubb was a successful business woman who rented a vacant lot in San Francisco’s Mission District back when The Mission was cheap and considered a bad neighborhood. Renting a vacant lot was one of the few affordable options back when she was younger and just starting out. She didn’t need a building or much infrastructure since she sold plants, garden supplies, and outdoor furniture. As The Mission gradually became fashionable (largely due to lots of cool people like Flora doing their thing) property values rose so high that she was asked to leave so her landlord could put up luxury condos on the site. But the landlord was a clever guy. He had another vacant lot in a different miserable part of town half a block from the sewage treatment plant. He arranged for Flora to set up shop there. She had enough of a loyal following by then that people were willing to follow her to the new location. Her current shop is an open air industrial shed and a former parking lot. The landlord owns other nearby properties and is leveraging Flora’s activities to boost those values. Flora is the catalyst for the transformation of an entire block.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Lancaster needs to become a mini San Francisco. That isn’t going to happen. But there are cost-effective techniques for jumpstarting a revival that Lancaster might consider in one of its least loved neighborhoods.

John Sanphillippo lives in San Francisco and blogs about urbanism, adaptation, and resilience at He's a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, films videos for, and is a regular contributor to He earns his living by buying, renovating, and renting undervalued properties in places that have good long term prospects. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Would the Twin Cities Survive New Urbanism?

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 21:38

In December, the Metropolitan Council of Minneapolis and St. Paul is scheduled to vote on a vision for the region's housing and transportation future. "Thrive MSP 2040” is the council’s comprehensive development plan for the seven-county Twin Cities metro area for the next 30 years. It's a regional growth plan that will result not in a cure for the area's ills, though, but in a virus that will kill its vitality.

The Minneapolis/ St. Paul area is one of the most livable regions in the nation. That's not because residents were forced onto transit and into high density housing, as 'Thrive' will do. Growth occurred in a natural manner, in an area with great schools, because people here had the freedom to choose the size of yard for their kids, and the ability to embrace the natural openness of the region. The vigorous suburban growth that resulted has helped our vitality, despite past decisions from the Met Council to neutralize it.

The Metropolitan Council isn't alone in adopting New Urbanist plans on a wholesale basis. Their approach, and the problems that go with it, are being repeated by many planning boards nationwide. The 350-page ‘Detroit Future City’ plan is a tunnel-vision strategy based on the same New Urbanist thought. With the best of intentions — goals of avoiding pre-fabricated monotony and sprawl, and creating affordable, livable communities — municipalities are actually writing prescriptions that will do just the opposite.

I speak with the perspective of a locally-based development consultant, and as an observer and resident of the region for 31 years. I've witnessed what has actually helped make this area succeed. At my company, we've designed hundreds of sustainable neighborhoods that don't adhere to the New Urbanist principles of high density and only public transit.

Two decades ago, the Met Council placed its faith in an urban growth boundary, limiting sewer development in the metro area to inoculate itself against “sprawl”. The result was an increase in the very sprawl the council sought to avoid, as development leap-frogged outside the seven-county area to escape the high land prices created by the artificial land limitation.

The Met Council hired Peter Calthorpe, founder of Congress for the New Urbanism, for several million in tax dollars, to provide a vision for our region’s future growth. The ‘one size fits all’ approach resulted in projects like Clover Ridge in Chaska, Ramsey Town Center, and indirectly, others like St. Michaels ‘Town Center’, none of which delivered the promises that had been made.

Calthorpe’s attempt to create a ‘sense of place’ failed to sufficiently attract home buyers. For example, the ‘conventionally planned’ sections of Clover Ridge sold well. But, with their sardine-like density, the housing along alleys remained vacant. Because the development did not attract as many homebuyers as anticipated, among other reasons, local shopping and restaurants did not materialize as the Met Council had promised.

More recently, ‘Smart Growth’ planners of projects such as ‘Excelsior and Grand’ in St. Louis Park failed to acknowledge why retailers were abandoning their spaces. A spokeswoman for Panera Bread cited poor location and lack of convenience for customers. Yet 'Excelsior and Grand' is a model New Urbanist plan, complete with the obligatory central ‘traffic circle’ with a ‘sense of place’ sculpture.

These smart-growth projects are examples of architects preaching a singular growth model that does not work for all people, in all climates. Those who assume that working class residents will appreciate waiting outside in 20 below zero weather at an architecturally designed “sense of place” bus stop, and then coming home to the 14th floor of a high rise, are clueless. And the dense projects being built in this region have the same sort of repetition of design that smart-growth planners criticize in suburbia.

Today in the Twin Cities, sales of new, single-family homes are rebounding, creating a catalyst for economic stability. Despite this market reality, some developers are still submitting new multifamily housing proposals. That's due to Met Council density mandates, not because of market demand. The Council’s assumption is that the population will migrate to the urban core for its (expensive) restaurants and its 19th century rail technology, abandoning spacious suburbs and cars. But sales suggest otherwise.

The Met Council’s ‘Thrive 2040' vision will undermine the American Dream of obtaining an affordable single-family home in an area where one desires to live, with the freedom of travel (and protection from our harsh winters) that only personal vehicles currently provide. Under the ‘Thrive’ mandates, more workers will need to live in ‘affordable housing’ (mid- or high rises) and take mass transit to their jobs. Yet ‘affordable housing’ remains elusive in ‘Smart Growth’ projects, unless it is heavily subsidized with tax dollars.

Calthorpe’s Congress for the New Urbanism actually boasts of the gentrification it produces. But when home prices go up, what happens to the living standard for displaced low-income families? The working class, regardless of race, should be outraged by ‘Thrive’.

Density does not guarantee affordability. We cannot forever throw tax dollars at high-density development solutions in an effort to make them economically feasible. A successful, balanced housing market drives the economy. At their December meeting, let's hope the Met Council recognizes that the 'Thrive' vision is anything but balanced.

Rick Harrison is President of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio and Neighborhood Innovations, LLC. He is author of Prefurbia: Reinventing The Suburbs From Disdainable To Sustainable and creator of Performance Planning System. His websites are and

Flickr photo by Adelie Freyja Annabel: Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis. "This is the original Caribou Coffee, which opened in 1992 on France Avenue between Sunnyside and 44th Street."

10 Steps to Financial System Stability: Lessons Not Learned

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 21:38

Recently, BloombergView writer Michael Lewis called attention to tape recordings made by a Federal Reserve Bank of New York bank examiner who was stationed inside Goldman Sachs’ offices for several months during 2011-2012. She released the tapes to This American Life who aired her story on September 26, 2014. Every media article I’ve seen on this begins with a prelude warning how complicated and hard to follow the story will be. Regular readers of New Geography are several steps ahead in their understanding of these causes and consequences of the financial crisis. If you are new here, you can follow the links in this piece to earlier NG articles.

Central to the theme of the story is the release of a 2009 report by Columbia University professor David Beim on why the Federal Reserve – especially the New York office which was supposed to be watching the banks – failed to act to prevent the crisis. Beim listed about a dozen “Lessons Learned” by bank supervisors after the financial crisis. In this article, we list the Lessons not Learned before the financial crisis. These lessons come from decades-old studies of financial regulation from around the world. If any US policy makers had paid attention in school, we would have avoided the global financial collapse of 2008. The United States – which was at the center of that storm – had been preaching these steps to emerging market nations for decades. Unfortunately, they just were not following them for us. In the fall of 1998, those emerging market economies seriously threatened the financial stability of the West. In the fall of 2008, it was the West that brought the threat upon itself and the rest of the world.

Four Policies, Five Tasks and One Idea

Policies not implemented

1. Have private, independent rating agencies: US rating agencies were technically independent because they were not owned by the government. However, with the creation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the “Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization” or NRSRO designation, three big credit rating agencies were the only ones accepted for use to meet regulatory requirements – they were issuing 98% of all credit ratings. This gave a government imprimatur to selected businesses, creating undue reliance by financial markets globally. By 2008, the “NRSRO” term appeared in more than 15 SEC rules and forms (not including those directly used for NRSROs), plus rules in all 50 states. NRSROs are also referenced in 46 Federal Reserve rules and regulations. Even though the SEC sanctioned and required the use of the NRSROs they had no say in the process used to establish the ratings.

Despite even pseudo-independence from the government, the NRSROs were not independent of the financial institutions that paid them to issue credit ratings. The government sanction gave them more power to wield against – or in favor of – the banks and companies they rated. They made money consulting for the same firms, resulting in pressure to rate bonds higher than they should have been rated.

2. Provide some government safety net but not so much that banks are not held accountable:  Many banks – and all of the New York Feds “primary dealers” – achieved “too big to fail” status through the Wall Street Bailout Act. A few were allowed to fail in the months leading up to the passage of the Bailout – most notably Lehman Brothers – in what amounted to the federal government picking winners and losers without accountability. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was nearly bankrupted in late 2009, removing the safety net that protected depositors. The FDIC was so depleted by the epidemic of collapsing banks, they eased the rules on buyers of failing banks, opening the door for hedge funds and private investors to gain access to “bank” status – and the protections that go with it. At the end of September 2009, the FDIC’s fund was already negative by $8.2 billion, a decrease of 180% in just three months. FDIC is projected to remain negative over the next several years as they absorb some $75 billion in failure costs just through the end of last year.

At the same time, bailed-out banks, brokers and private corporations received additional financial support from the Federal Reserve in a move unprecedented in US history. Billions of dollars in loans were made to the banks without proper documentation. The lack of transparency in the process used by the Treasury to decide who would receive bailout funds and what the recipients have done with the hundreds of billions of dollars was the subject of a GAO audit we wrote about in 2011.

3. Allow very little government ownership and control of national financial assets: Four years after the crisis, the U.S. Treasury still owned more than half of American International Group, Inc., (AIG). AIG was the world’s largest insurance company – giving the government ownership in international financial assets, too. The U.S. government took ownership positions in virtually every major financial institution during the bailout, plus some non-banks that had lending arms (like General Motors Acceptance Corporation). The GAO audit of the Fed shows we loaned money to and took ownership stakes in a slew of non-regulated businesses like Target and Harley Davidson. The lack of transparency in these transactions is dangerous. Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises warned decades earlier that market data could be “falsified by the interference of the government,” with misleading results for businesses and consumers.

4. Allow banks to reduce the volatility of returns by offering a wide-range of services: Until the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, banks were restricted to buying securities defined as investment grade by the NRSROs. Given what we now know about these ratings and the actual riskiness of some AAA-rated investments, the requirement actually made bank investments more dangerous. The process followed in the years (even decades) leading up to the collapse of credit markets was not one that would meet the definition of “unrestricted.” Although there appeared to be a wide range of activities available to US banks, the restriction on credit ratings would eventually increase volatility by concentrating risk instead of dispersing it. Just because a bank can deal in a particular investment does not mean that they should.

The steps outlined here are a comprehensive program, not a menu of options.  There is no sense allowing banks wide latitude to make risky investments if proper supervision and enforcement is not in place. That leads us to the next steps: the necessary tasks for prudent regulation.

Tasks Not Taken

Ten years before the most recent financial crisis (1998), the international financial system had already entered a new era. Speaking at the Western Economics International Association in 2001, Lord John Eatwell said, “The potential economy-wide inefficiency of liberalised financial markets was indisputable.” Eatwell had been writing about these problems for decades.

5. Require financial market players to register and be authorized: US regulators failed to act on establishing registration for hedge funds, failed to establish requirements for registering who can issue collateralized mortgage obligations (mortgage-backed securities), and failed to act on loopholes in regulations prohibiting insurance companies like AIG from issuing credit default swaps through subsidiaries – the list goes on. Dodd-Frank established the Financial Stability Oversight Council to designate “Systemically Important Nonbank” – yet another government imprimatur for unregulated entities. Instead of making sure only authorized businesses perform financial activity they are only making sure those big financial firms are bailed-out faster in the future.

6. Provide information, including setting standards, to enhance market transparency: There were no standards for issuing derivatives. Nor for collateralized debt like the mortgage-backed bonds where there was no link from homes/real estate. Because the financial issuers had no standard for reporting changes in ownership to land offices who keep track of liens on homes (usually county-level property office), probably one-third of the bonds the Fed is buying in their monthly “quantitative easing” purchases are truly worthless.

7. Routinely examine financial institutions to ensure that the regulatory code is obeyed: Without registration and standards, of course, they can be no surveillance by any regulator. Congress admitted that while “most of the largest, most interconnected, and most highly leveraged financial firms in the country were subject to some form of supervision” it proved to be “inadequate and inconsistent.” The story described to This American Life by Carmen Segarra is not news – it is only one more in a long history of problems.

8. Enforce the code and discipline transgressors: Despite existing rules allowing regulators to prohibit offenders from engaging in future financial activity, only minimal fines have been issued.  “Too big to fail” practices allow regulators to “look the other way” on money laundering and other issues that put our national security at risk. According to the Special Inspector General’s Quarterly Report (September 2012), the “Treasury [is] selling its investment in banks at a loss, sometimes back to the bank itself” allowing even banks who have the ability to pay to get out of the program for less than they owe. Those responsible for creating the situation that required the Bailout have not been called to discipline. Quite the contrary, many were paid elaborate bonuses at the same time their financial institutions were receiving bailout funds.

9. Develop policies that keep the regulatory code up to date: More than a decade before the crisis, Brooksley Born raised enormous concerns over derivatives in the US – including credit default swaps – during her tenure as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1996-1999).  Both the SEC and the Federal Reserve Board objected to her ideas.  On June 1, 1999, Congress passed legislation prohibiting such regulation, ushering in a long period of growth in the unregulated market. Five years after the financial crisis began, rules are still not implemented. AIG became subject to Federal Reserve supervision only in September 2012 when they bought a savings and loan holding company. By October 2, 2012, AIG had been notified that it is being considered for the “systemically important” designation – the “too big to fail” stamp of approval for everything they do.

One Way Out

Which leads us to one old idea that every student who ever took economics 101 should remember:

10. Create specialized financial institutions: In the context of what we know about the policies and tasks that support financial stability, only one additional factor needs to be considered, and that is an old theory on the economic gains from specialization. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith told us that the bigger the market the greater the potential gains from specialization. With equity markets alone reaching a global value of $46 trillion, the potential gains are enormous.

Peter Drucker made this point on specialization in 1993 in his prophetic book “Post-Capitalist Society.” While diversification is good for a portfolio of financial investments, in large systems it means “splintering.” In a system as large as financial markets, diversification “destroys the performance capacity.” If financial institutions are tools to be used in furthering the efforts of the broad economy, then as Drucker writes “the more specialized its given task, the greater its performance capacity” and therefore the greater the need for specialization.

The rise of the financial sector has been tied to economic expansion throughout our modern business history. The more robust the flow of finance, the more robust is the potential for economic activity. Greater efficiency in capital markets can lead directly to greater efficiency in industry. Our economy, our livelihood and our well-being are inextricably related to finance at home and around the world. It is now necessary to return to the basics and recognize the long run value of economically efficient specialization. We are living in the post-capitalist society described by Drucker. US regulators have been overly focused on the financial theory of portfolio diversification, ignoring the economic importance of gains through specialization. Drucker’s forecast was accurate: “Organizations can only do damage to themselves and to society if they tackle tasks that are beyond their specialized competence.”

None of this is to say that our long-term failure is guaranteed. What happens next will be an experiment on a grand scale. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded: “The captains of finance and the public stewards of our financial system ignored warnings and failed to question, understand, and manage evolving risks within a system essential to the well-being of the American public.” Carmen Segarra did not tell us anything new: hopefully what she told us – and what ProPublica and others are writing about it – will help a wider public to understand the problem.

Susanne Trimbath, Ph.D. is CEO and Chief Economist of STP Advisory Services. Dr. Trimbath’s credits include appearances on national television and radio programs and the Emmy® Award nominated Bloomberg report Phantom Shares. She appears in four documentaries on the financial crisis, including Stock Shock: the Rise of Sirius XM and Collapse of Wall Street Ethicsand the newly released Wall Street Conspiracy. Dr. Trimbath was formerly Senior Research Economist at the Milken Institute. She served as Senior Advisor on United States Agency for International Development capital markets projects in Russia, Romania and Ukraine. Dr. Trimbath teaches graduate and undergraduate finance and economics.

Wall Street bull photo by

The Evolving Urban Form: Tianjin

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 21:38

Tianjin is located on Bohai Gulf, approximately 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Beijing. It was the imperial port of China, by virtue of that proximity. Tianjin also served as one of the most important "treaty ports" occupied and/or controlled by western nations and Japan for various years before 1950.

Tianjin is pivotally located along the East coast corridor between "Dongbei" – the northeast (the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, which are also referred to as Manchuria) and Jinan, Nanjing, Shanghai and points south. Both the most direct expressway route (interstate standard) and high speed rail line from Shanghai to Dongbei cross through Tianjin rather than larger Beijing.

Tianjin is one of four centrally administered provincial level municipalities, along with Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing. While Tianjin has grown strongly in recent years, it has been one of China's largest cities for decades. According to the United Nations, the 1950 Tianjin urban area was the second largest in China, with 2.5 million residents, trailing only Shanghai which had 4.3 million. Beijing trailed Tianjin by a third, at 1.7 million.

Population and Growth

Since 1982, the total population of Tianjin has expanded by nearly 90 percent, from 7.9 million to 14.7 million in 2013 (Exhibit 1).  Population growth has accelerated over that time. Between 2000 and 2010, the population rose 2.7 percent annually, more than double 1.2 percent rate of the 1990s. The rate of increase was even higher between 2010 and 2013, at 4.5 percent.

Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the inner core district (Heping qu), experienced a population loss of 12 percent. But the rest of the municipality increased, accounting for 101 percent of the growth. The balance of the core captured 18 percent of the growth, while the suburban ring attracted 27 percent. By far the greatest growth was in the outer districts, which accounted for a solid majority of the growth (Exhibit 2). This peripheral domination of growth mirrors the experience of other large Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing, which have seen their core areas decline in population, with most growth occurring in the outer sectors.

A New Megacity

Tianjin is one of the world's newest megacities (urban area over 10 million population). This has occurred because of the strong post-2010 population growth. In the next Demographia World Urban Areas (early 2015), Tianjin will have an estimated built up urban area population of 10.9 million. With an urban expanse covering 775 square miles (2,007 square kilometers), Tianjin has an urban population density of 14,100 per square mile (5,400 per square kilometer).

With the urban area expanding geographically, Tianjin fits the international trend of cities, in growing strongly, yet experiencing declining overall urban densities. Chinese urban planners have told me that it has been an intended objective of policy to reduce population densities, to give people more living space. This is despite the preachments of US and European urban planners for whom higher densities often are embraced as an "Article of Faith."

Tianjin's Urban Form

Despite their comparatively high density, Chinese cities are anything but compact. Most are polycentric in urban form, with central districts have widely spaced commercial buildings (the most notable exceptions may be Shanghai, Chongqing, and Dalian, but even these are somewhat polycentric). Tianjin, along with "in situ" urbanization Quanzhou, may be the least compact of the major cities.

Tianjin has a broad central business district (CBD), populated with tall, commercial buildings and residential structures (Exhibits 3 & 4). As is the case in many Asian cities (such as Bangkok, Guanzhou-Foshan, Xi'an and Beijing, the tall commercial buildings tend to be highly dispersed, rather than close together as is the custom in Canadian and American cities. In between the dispersed tall buildings are lower rise buildings, both commercial and residential.

Currently the tallest building in the CBD is the Tianjin World Financial Center (Exhibit 5), at 76 stories (1,105 feet or 337 meters). This is somewhat taller than New York's Chrysler Building, which was the second tallest in Gotham for years. However, another taller building is near completion, the Tianjin R&F Guangdong Tower (Exhibit 6), which is well on the way to its 91 floors (1,535 feet or 468 meters). However,even this building is not as tall as three others under construction in other Tianjin centers.

A second central business district is developing in the Binhai new area, near the port and 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the Tianjin CBD. The Rose Rock International Financial Center will reach 100 floors (1,929 feet or 538 meters). This, however, is only the second tallest under construction. The CTF Tower is also under construction and will reach 96 floors (1,740 feet or 530 meters), nearly as tall as the new World Trade Center in New York (1,776 feet or 541 meters).

Finally, the tallest building in Tianjin, Goldin Finance 117 is under construction approximately 9 miles (15 kilometers) west of the Tianjin CBD in a virtually new business center. This building will exceed the heights of all but three of the completed skyscrapers in the world (Lead Photo).

Altogether, Tianjin will soon have five buildings of more than 90 floors, a record few if any cities will soon equal.


Tianjin has more than its share of modern Chinese high rise commercial structures and residential buildings. But, perhaps to a greater extent than any other Chinese city, Tianjin exhibits the architecture of the foreign powers to a greater degree than some other treaty ports (such as Fuzhou, Dalian, and Wuhan). The city of Tianjin has meticulously preserved many of these structures, not only commercial and residential buildings, but also churches.

The Tianjin CBD has a number of low rise streets with European architecture. Some of the most impressive are across the Hai River from the Tianjin Railway Station. There is also a long pedestrian street beyond with considerable western architecture. Virtually throughout the urban core there are examples of classic western architecture, some as ornate as in central Buenos Aires (Exhibit 7).

Perhaps the most unique feature is a large area of western residences just to the south of the Tianjin CBD (Exhibits 8 & 9).

In the Beijing Orbit: An Advantage

Tianjin is clearly in the orbit of larger Beijing, which has recently announced plans for a 7th ring road and other infrastructure to tie not only the city but adjacent provincial level jurisdictions together (Tianjin and Hebei). With a strong policy interest in limiting Beijing's population growth, and with plenty of rural land available, Tianjin could receive a substantial share of growth that otherwise would go to Beijing.

Top photo: Goldin 117 Financial Building under construction at November 6, 2014 (by author).

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

America's Smartest Cities

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:38

In this difficult recovery, many of the strongest local economies have been those with a high share of educated people in their workforce, particularly areas where technology companies and other knowledge-based industries are growing most rapidly.

To determine the metro areas that are gaining brainpower in the 21stCentury, we scored the nation’s 380 metropolitan statistical areas based on three criteria. We started with the growth rate in the number of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree from 2000 through 2013 (25% weighting in final score). But since the places that post the highest growth rates tend to be those starting with low levels of educational attainment, we gave greater weight to the percentage point increase in the share of the population that is college-educated over that span (50%), and we factored in the share of educated people in the population in 2013 (25%). We also separated out results for the 51 MSAs with over a million residents.

For the most part, the top 10 on our list of the 51 largest metro areas is dominated by places with large concentrations of colleges, and those that long ago made the transition from industrial to information-based economies.

In the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area, 44.8% of the population has bachelor’s degrees or above, the fourth-highest concentration of brainpower in the nation, up 7.8 percentage points since 2000 on the strength of a 32.2% jump in its college-educated population. That places Boston No. 1 on our large cities list.

It’s followed in second place by Pittsburgh, which logged the largest percentage point increase since 2000 in the proportion of its population that is college-educated, 8.8 points, to 32.2%, on the strength of 37.3% growth in raw numbers.

Perhaps the biggest driver in increasing the concentration of educated people in a population lies in the composition of local industry. Silicon Valley has done very well, making heavy additions to an already high concentration of educated residents. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area places third on our list with a population in which 46.7% hold a bachelor’s degree or above, the second highest share in the nation, a 6.8 percentage point jump over 2000. Its urban annex, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, places eighth, with a population that is 45.2% college-educated, an increase of 6.4 percentage points. To some extent, this reflects the area’s deindustrialization and high price structure; you do not want to come to the Bay Area today without a high-paying job requiring a good college degree if you expect to live a middle-class lifestyle.

Another big employer of educated people is government, and with Washington in expansion mode over the past decade, it’s no surprise that our nation’s capital features in the top 10 — twice. The proportion of the population of Washington-Alexandria-Arlington that is college-educated has risen 6.2 points to 48.7%, the highest concentration in the nation, on the back of a 45% increase in the raw numbers. It ranks fifth on our list, followed in sixth place by neighboring Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

The Small Smart Set

Looking at the full set of the nation’s 380 metropolitan areas, the 51 biggest added far more people to their college-educated populations than the other 329 — a net 12 million since 2000, compared to 4.8 million for the smaller metro areas. But the growth rates were actually fairly similar, 43% vs. 41%, which highlights that the largest cities are no longer the only places attracting educated workers.

Some of the most dramatic growth is taking place in two kinds of small-scale geographies: college towns and what might be best described as amenity regions. At the turn of the millennium, college towns already had a decent base of educated people; now they seem able to attract and nurture tech companies as well. This is the case for the second-ranked metro area on our overall list of all 380: Bloomington, Indiana. Home to Indiana University, the metro area has logged a dramatic 11.7 percentage point increase in the proportion of its population that is college educated since 2000. The share of its population with BAs is now 40.6%, putting it in range of places like Boston and the Bay Area.

Much the same pattern can be seen in several college towns, including No. 4 Auburn-Opelika, Ala.; Hattiesburg, Miss. (sixth); Lawrence, Kan. (seventh), and Burlington, Vt. (10th). The other big growth areas are attractive small towns that have lured many down-shifting, but often well educated, boomers. Placing first on our overall list is St. George, Utah — its college-educated population increased by 167% from 2000 through 2013, making for a hefty 11.1 percentage point jump in the proportion of its population that’s college educated to 32.0%. Other areas with similar patterns of growth include Ocean City, N.J. (third), Wilmington, N.C. (fifth), Asheville, N.C. (eighth), and Redmond-Bend, Ore. (ninth).

Looking Forward

The rapid growth in the concentration of residents with bachelor’s degrees in these smaller cities suggests that the geography of brainpower is likely to change in the years ahead. For decades the Southeast and Midwest have lagged behind the Northeast and the West Coast in education, but this gap is closing somewhat, at least in the smaller cities. Save Burlington, Vt., not one small metro area in the Northeast or California ranked within the top 65 of our overall list.

A plethora of places in the Southeast dot the top part of our overall list: in addition to the previously mentioned Wilmington and Asheville, Durham-Chapel Hill (15th); Charleston-North Charleston, S.C. (17th); and Savannah, Ga. (20th). The Intermountain West is well represented as well in addition to St. George, with Boulder, Colo., in 13th place, and Provo-Orem, Utah, in 22nd. These areas are all likely to emerge as top tech and professional centers as their ranks of educated workers swell.

An equally compelling view of the future would be to concentrate on the locations of relatively recent college graduates. A recent study by Richey Piiparinen and Jim Russell for Cleveland State University looked at college-educated people between the ages of 25 and 34 in 2011-13. It found that many of the metro areas with the most rapid growth of this population were in the South, led by Nashville, Tenn., Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.; and Austin, Texas, all of which experienced growth in this cohort of between 15% and 25%.

More surprising, however, was the strong growth in some Rust Belt cities, including Cleveland-Elyria (+20%), and Pittsburgh (12%). Piiparinen and Russell suggest this is, in part, due to the lower costs in these regions, which allow young people to live far better than they would in a pricier city on either coast. Clearly high costs could shift the nature of future educated migration. It already has caused millennial populations to stagnate in some traditional magnet cities for the educated, such as New York and San Francisco, and actually drop in the core areas of Chicago and Portland. Another factor could be the availability of high-paying jobs; Portland, for example, has an inordinate proportion of college-educated young residents working at lower wages than the national average. In contrast Houston, where high-paying jobs are being created at a healthy clip, the young educated cohort grew five times as fast.

Of course many factors could shift this geography of education in the years ahead. An extended slide in oil prices, for example, could slow growth in places like Houston and Dallas, while a shift in the terrain of social media could have a devastating effect on the Bay Area. Yet looking ahead, it’s clear that the map of America’s brainpower is likely to continue changing. The leaders, particularly talent-producers such as Boston, should remain at the top for years to come, but other regions — notably the South, the Intermountain West and perhaps also the Rust Belt — could be making bigger gains in the years ahead.

Educated Metropolitan Area Rankings Rank Rank in Size Group Region (MSA) Size Score 2013 share 2000-2013 Growth 2000-2013 point change 1 1 St. George, UT S 72.0 32.0% 167.3% 11.1% 2 2 Bloomington, IN S 69.7 40.6% 27.6% 11.7% 3 3 Ocean City, NJ S 67.6 33.7% 48.7% 11.7% 4 4 Auburn-Opelika, AL S 65.6 37.9% 90.0% 10.0% 5 1 Wilmington, NC M 62.5 34.6% 37.6% 10.4% 6 5 Hattiesburg, MS S 62.1 32.6% 77.7% 10.0% 7 6 Lawrence, KS S 60.6 50.4% 50.4% 7.7% 8 2 Asheville, NC M 60.2 32.7% 71.8% 9.6% 9 7 Bend-Redmond, OR S 60.1 33.8% 104.6% 8.9% 10 8 Burlington-South Burlington, VT S 59.2 43.3% 39.8% 8.4% 11 9 Bloomington, IL S 58.1 41.8% 48.0% 8.2% 12 1 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH L 57.1 44.8% 32.2% 7.8% 13 3 Boulder, CO M 56.8 58.5% 20.1% 6.1% 14 10 Iowa City, IA S 55.2 48.6% 45.2% 6.6% 15 4 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC M 54.7 45.5% 53.1% 6.8% 16 2 Pittsburgh, PA L 54.7 32.2% 37.3% 8.8% 17 5 Charleston-North Charleston, SC M 54.7 33.0% 81.5% 8.0% 18 3 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA L 54.2 46.7% 32.9% 6.8% 19 4 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI L 54.0 30.6% 92.7% 7.9% 20 6 Savannah, GA M 53.9 31.3% 73.2% 8.1% 21 5 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV L 53.3 48.7% 44.9% 6.2% 22 7 Provo-Orem, UT M 52.9 37.7% 94.5% 6.7% 23 11 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC S 52.6 36.7% 83.4% 6.9% 24 6 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD L 52.6 36.8% 40.8% 7.6% 25 7 Raleigh, NC L 52.6 43.7% 78.7% 6.1% 26 12 Missoula, MT S 52.5 39.8% 48.8% 7.0% 27 8 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA M 52.4 35.4% 59.8% 7.4% 28 9 Ann Arbor, MI M 51.4 53.5% 23.7% 5.4% 29 8 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA L 51.3 45.2% 30.8% 6.4% 30 9 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA L 50.9 39.4% 47.9% 6.7% 31 10 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA L 50.9 37.4% 37.9% 7.1% 32 11 St. Louis, MO-IL L 50.8 32.5% 41.9% 7.7% 33 13 Sioux Falls, SD S 50.6 32.3% 73.0% 7.2% 34 10 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO M 50.4 28.2% 92.3% 7.4% 35 14 Manhattan, KS S 50.3 37.8% 13.0% 7.4% 36 15 Great Falls, MT S 50.2 29.4% 45.5% 7.9% 37 12 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO L 49.4 40.3% 52.2% 6.1% 38 11 Trenton, NJ M 49.0 40.4% 27.7% 6.4% 39 16 Logan, UT-ID S 48.8 35.9% 66.6% 6.3% 40 17 Corvallis, OR S 48.7 52.2% 26.1% 4.8% 41 18 Hinesville, GA S 48.4 20.9% 101.1% 7.7% 42 13 Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN L 48.4 32.3% 71.9% 6.6% 43 14 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD L 48.2 34.6% 36.3% 6.9% 44 19 California-Lexington Park, MD S 48.1 29.5% 69.3% 7.0% 45 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI L 48.1 39.3% 43.7% 6.1% 46 12 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT M 48.0 45.5% 21.5% 5.6% 47 13 Portland-South Portland, ME M 47.9 35.8% 37.2% 6.6% 48 20 Columbia, MO S 47.7 45.3% 35.0% 5.3% 49 14 Madison, WI M 47.6 42.4% 48.5% 5.5% 50 16 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA L 47.4 35.1% 53.9% 6.3% 51 15 Salisbury, MD-DE M 46.9 22.5% 344.7% 3.0% 52 21 Morgantown, WV S 46.7 32.5% 55.5% 6.4% 53 17 Austin-Round Rock, TX L 46.3 41.5% 79.8% 4.8% 54 16 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA M 46.3 33.4% 48.0% 6.4% 55 22 Fargo, ND-MN S 46.3 35.3% 56.7% 5.9% 56 23 Sumter, SC S 46.2 23.3% 58.9% 7.5% 57 24 State College, PA S 46.1 41.7% 36.0% 5.4% 58 25 Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY S 46.1 21.6% 113.7% 6.8% 59 17 Green Bay, WI M 45.9 27.0% 54.7% 7.0% 60 18 Lexington-Fayette, KY M 45.6 35.7% 45.7% 5.9% 61 19 Huntsville, AL M 45.6 36.5% 54.5% 5.6% 62 18 Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY L 45.4 30.1% 29.4% 6.9% 63 19 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI L 45.4 35.1% 32.5% 6.2% 64 20 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT L 45.2 36.5% 28.5% 6.0% 65 20 Worcester, MA-CT M 44.9 32.9% 55.0% 6.0% 66 21 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI L 44.8 33.2% 33.4% 6.3% 67 21 Clarksville, TN-KY M 44.8 23.2% 70.1% 7.0% 68 26 Pittsfield, MA S 44.5 32.4% 24.4% 6.4% 69 22 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN L 44.4 31.2% 37.7% 6.4% 70 27 Gettysburg, PA S 44.3 23.6% 63.8% 6.9% 71 22 Greeley, CO M 44.3 27.4% 101.2% 5.8% 72 23 Peoria, IL M 44.0 27.4% 41.3% 6.7% 73 28 Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL S 44.0 29.0% 76.5% 5.9% 74 24 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL M 43.9 30.6% 53.3% 6.0% 75 29 Springfield, IL S 43.9 34.0% 30.0% 6.0% 76 30 Santa Fe, NM S 43.7 41.7% 37.1% 4.8% 77 25 New Haven-Milford, CT M 43.4 33.5% 30.1% 5.9% 78 26 Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL M 43.3 26.5% 41.2% 6.6% 79 27 Evansville, IN-KY M 43.3 24.5% 32.3% 7.0% 80 31 Napa, CA S 43.1 32.2% 39.8% 5.8% 81 32 Fairbanks, AK S 43.1 32.6% 52.5% 5.6% 82 23 Kansas City, MO-KS L 43.1 33.7% 37.7% 5.7% 83 28 Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV M 43.0 21.3% 71.5% 6.7% 84 24 Columbus, OH L 42.7 33.7% 50.0% 5.4% 85 33 Champaign-Urbana, IL S 42.4 39.4% 30.3% 4.9% 86 29 Urban Honolulu, HI M 42.2 33.4% 37.5% 5.5% 87 30 Norwich-New London, CT M 42.2 32.0% 32.7% 5.8% 88 34 Ithaca, NY S 42.2 50.9% 21.3% 3.4% 89 35 Johnson City, TN S 42.0 24.8% 50.2% 6.4% 90 25 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL L 42.0 27.6% 53.1% 5.9% 91 31 Boise City, ID M 41.9 30.7% 74.5% 5.2% 92 26 Jacksonville, FL L 41.9 28.3% 62.5% 5.7% 93 36 Ames, IA S 41.8 48.2% 22.0% 3.7% 94 27 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC L 41.8 29.6% 41.2% 5.8% 95 28 Providence-Warwick, RI-MA L 41.7 29.6% 30.9% 6.0% 96 37 Rochester, MN S 41.7 35.3% 56.9% 4.8% 97 38 Grand Junction, CO S 41.6 27.6% 63.7% 5.7% 98 32 Bremerton-Silverdale, WA M 41.6 30.9% 42.2% 5.6% 99 33 Roanoke, VA M 41.6 27.1% 40.7% 6.1% 100 29 Birmingham-Hoover, AL L 41.5 28.6% 39.9% 5.9% 101 39 Charlottesville, VA S 41.4 42.2% 48.2% 3.9% 102 34 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ M 41.4 27.6% 44.3% 5.9% 103 40 Las Cruces, NM S 41.3 27.9% 59.3% 5.6% 104 30 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA L 41.3 31.7% 36.6% 5.5% 105 41 Winchester, VA-WV S 41.2 24.2% 71.3% 5.9% 106 31 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA L 41.2 34.6% 39.9% 5.0% 107 35 Fort Collins, CO M 41.2 43.3% 43.6% 3.8% 108 32 Cleveland-Elyria, OH L 41.0 29.8% 23.8% 5.9% 109 36 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY M 40.8 34.3% 28.0% 5.2% 110 37 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA M 40.6 38.9% 18.6% 4.7% 111 42 Bellingham, WA S 40.4 32.2% 51.9% 5.0% 112 33 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN L 40.4 27.0% 42.5% 5.8% 113 43 Bismarck, ND S 40.3 30.5% 65.3% 4.9% 114 34 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI L 40.0 29.0% 24.6% 5.7% 115 38 Lynchburg, VA M 39.8 24.6% 46.9% 5.9% 116 35 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL L 39.8 29.3% 45.2% 5.3% 117 39 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL M 39.7 26.2% 84.1% 5.1% 118 44 Appleton, WI S 39.7 27.6% 48.8% 5.4% 119 36 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC L 39.7 32.0% 102.3% 4.0% 120 40 Lancaster, PA M 39.6 26.1% 47.7% 5.6% 121 41 Akron, OH M 39.4 29.7% 27.7% 5.4% 122 42 Lincoln, NE M 39.4 36.3% 37.0% 4.4% 123 43 Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA M 39.3 23.6% 35.7% 6.1% 124 45 Jonesboro, AR S 39.2 23.1% 58.5% 5.8% 125 37 Richmond, VA L 39.2 32.5% 37.0% 4.9% 126 44 Erie, PA M 39.2 26.6% 32.9% 5.7% 127 46 Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ S 39.1 24.5% 52.4% 5.7% 128 38 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL L 39.0 29.5% 66.5% 4.7% 129 47 Dover, DE S 39.0 23.9% 79.0% 5.3% 130 45 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC M 39.0 22.7% 163.1% 4.0% 131 46 Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL M 39.0 32.4% 58.2% 4.5% 132 39 Rochester, NY L 38.8 32.6% 27.6% 4.9% 133 40 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX L 38.7 30.9% 61.7% 4.5% 134 48 Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI S 38.7 27.4% 60.0% 5.0% 135 49 Walla Walla, WA S 38.5 28.1% 37.8% 5.2% 136 50 Flagstaff, AZ S 38.4 34.3% 40.1% 4.4% 137 47 Ogden-Clearfield, UT M 38.4 29.0% 79.0% 4.4% 138 48 San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA M 38.3 31.5% 35.4% 4.8% 139 51 Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA S 38.2 23.0% 40.8% 5.8% 140 52 Fond du Lac, WI S 38.2 22.6% 48.7% 5.7% 141 49 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA M 38.2 29.4% 34.8% 5.0% 142 53 Dubuque, IA S 38.0 26.6% 38.2% 5.3% 143 54 Homosassa Springs, FL S 38.0 18.9% 70.8% 5.8% 144 50 Manchester-Nashua, NH M 37.9 34.5% 27.0% 4.4% 145 51 Reno, NV M 37.8 28.4% 58.5% 4.7% 146 55 La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN S 37.5 29.5% 34.1% 4.9% 147 41 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX L 37.4 32.6% 54.6% 4.1% 148 42 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX L 37.4 26.7% 66.2% 4.7% 149 56 Cheyenne, WY S 37.2 28.2% 45.2% 4.8% 150 43 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA L 37.1 35.2% 47.7% 3.8% 151 52 Wichita, KS M 37.0 29.0% 36.9% 4.8% 152 57 Kingston, NY S 37.0 29.8% 25.9% 4.8% 153 53 Ocala, FL M 36.9 19.0% 84.4% 5.3% 154 44 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV L 36.9 22.1% 91.4% 4.7% 155 45 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN L 36.8 30.8% 51.4% 4.3% 156 54 Shreveport-Bossier City, LA M 36.8 24.2% 56.8% 5.0% 157 58 Columbus, IN S 36.6 27.0% 36.8% 4.9% 158 46 Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA L 36.6 30.8% 48.4% 4.2% 159 59 Altoona, PA S 36.5 19.7% 41.8% 5.8% 160 47 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ L 36.4 29.2% 62.5% 4.2% 161 55 Syracuse, NY M 36.4 29.9% 25.6% 4.7% 162 56 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA M 36.1 31.2% 34.8% 4.3% 163 60 Niles-Benton Harbor, MI S 36.1 24.9% 26.5% 5.3% 164 61 Elmira, NY S 36.1 23.9% 29.0% 5.3% 165 57 Colorado Springs, CO M 36.0 35.3% 43.7% 3.6% 166 62 Chico, CA S 35.9 26.6% 36.7% 4.8% 167 58 Columbia, SC M 35.9 30.7% 44.3% 4.1% 168 59 Baton Rouge, LA M 35.8 27.3% 46.7% 4.5% 169 63 Cape Girardeau, MO-IL S 35.3 24.9% 31.3% 5.0% 170 60 Springfield, MO M 35.2 25.8% 51.2% 4.5% 171 64 Greenville, NC S 35.1 28.4% 33.3% 4.4% 172 61 Lansing-East Lansing, MI M 34.9 32.4% 23.8% 4.0% 173 65 Staunton-Waynesboro, VA S 34.9 22.4% 41.7% 5.0% 174 66 Pocatello, ID S 34.9 28.4% 28.0% 4.5% 175 48 New Orleans-Metairie, LA L 34.9 27.4% 21.8% 4.7% 176 62 Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC M 34.8 26.8% 81.5% 3.8% 177 67 Midland, MI S 34.7 33.2% 21.8% 3.9% 178 63 Kalamazoo-Portage, MI M 34.6 31.0% 25.3% 4.1% 179 68 Barnstable Town, MA S 34.5 37.1% 10.2% 3.5% 180 64 Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ M 34.5 23.5% 40.0% 4.8% 181 65 Duluth, MN-WI M 34.3 25.2% 28.9% 4.7% 182 69 Wheeling, WV-OH S 34.3 20.0% 34.1% 5.3% 183 49 Memphis, TN-MS-AR L 34.1 26.4% 38.1% 4.4% 184 70 Glens Falls, NY S 34.1 23.6% 37.2% 4.7% 185 50 Salt Lake City, UT L 34.1 31.2% 43.8% 3.6% 186 71 Monroe, MI S 34.0 19.4% 47.7% 5.1% 187 72 Harrisonburg, VA S 33.7 25.6% 47.1% 4.2% 188 73 Albany, OR S 33.7 18.3% 62.1% 4.9% 189 66 Spartanburg, SC M 33.6 22.6% 56.1% 4.4% 190 67 Greensboro-High Point, NC M 33.5 27.5% 36.6% 4.1% 191 74 Binghamton, NY S 33.1 26.4% 19.9% 4.4% 192 75 Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN S 32.9 32.5% 32.6% 3.3% 193 76 Lebanon, PA S 32.9 20.1% 47.8% 4.7% 194 77 Bay City, MI S 32.8 19.2% 35.4% 5.0% 195 68 Eugene, OR M 32.6 29.2% 30.9% 3.7% 196 78 Coeur d'Alene, ID S 32.6 23.0% 68.6% 3.9% 197 79 Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA S 32.6 29.3% 38.0% 3.6% 198 80 Battle Creek, MI S 32.6 20.8% 31.1% 4.8% 199 51 Oklahoma City, OK L 32.5 27.9% 41.8% 3.7% 200 69 Chattanooga, TN-GA M 32.4 23.7% 42.1% 4.2% 201 81 College Station-Bryan, TX S 32.3 34.2% 49.9% 2.7% 202 70 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC M 32.2 24.5% 45.2% 4.0% 203 71 Springfield, MA M 32.2 29.2% 7.8% 4.0% 204 82 Carbondale-Marion, IL S 32.0 27.5% 27.3% 3.9% 205 83 Johnstown, PA S 32.0 18.7% 28.4% 5.0% 206 84 Saginaw, MI S 31.9 20.7% 26.3% 4.8% 207 72 El Paso, TX M 31.8 20.8% 57.7% 4.2% 208 73 Tucson, AZ M 31.8 30.1% 35.0% 3.3% 209 74 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL M 31.7 25.4% 37.7% 3.9% 210 85 Bowling Green, KY S 31.5 25.3% 86.0% 3.1% 211 86 Charleston, WV S 31.5 22.8% -4.8% 4.9% 212 87 Medford, OR S 31.4 26.0% 40.9% 3.7% 213 75 Santa Rosa, CA M 31.4 31.7% 25.4% 3.2% 214 88 Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA S 31.3 19.1% 54.2% 4.3% 215 76 Tallahassee, FL M 31.2 36.6% 26.8% 2.5% 216 89 Jackson, TN S 31.2 23.8% 50.4% 3.8% 217 90 Brunswick, GA S 31.0 23.4% 50.2% 3.8% 218 77 Fayetteville, NC M 31.0 22.3% 43.0% 4.0% 219 52 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA L 31.0 20.1% 73.9% 3.8% 220 78 Anchorage, AK M 30.9 30.0% 41.4% 3.0% 221 91 Oshkosh-Neenah, WI S 30.8 26.4% 30.1% 3.6% 222 79 Dayton, OH M 30.7 26.6% 14.1% 3.9% 223 92 Decatur, IL S 30.5 21.3% 24.9% 4.3% 224 80 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL M 30.5 21.3% 66.9% 3.6% 225 81 Killeen-Temple, TX M 30.5 21.6% 61.5% 3.7% 226 82 Tulsa, OK M 30.5 26.0% 33.0% 3.6% 227 83 Reading, PA M 30.4 22.5% 35.3% 4.0% 228 84 Jackson, MS M 30.4 29.3% 35.6% 3.1% 229 85 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR M 30.3 27.4% 37.6% 3.3% 230 86 Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH M 30.1 18.8% 63.5% 3.9% 231 93 Wausau, WI S 30.0 22.2% 37.5% 3.9% 232 87 Port St. Lucie, FL M 30.0 23.1% 60.6% 3.4% 233 94 Grants Pass, OR S 30.0 18.3% 48.6% 4.2% 234 88 Utica-Rome, NY M 30.0 21.9% 24.6% 4.1% 235 95 Casper, WY S 29.9 23.5% 47.8% 3.5% 236 89 Canton-Massillon, OH M 29.7 21.4% 26.3% 4.1% 237 90 Albuquerque, NM M 29.6 30.7% 40.7% 2.6% 238 96 Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL S 29.4 26.2% 42.3% 3.1% 239 91 Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA M 29.4 32.2% 18.4% 2.7% 240 97 Prescott, AZ S 29.3 24.3% 55.2% 3.2% 241 98 Muncie, IN S 29.0 24.1% 16.1% 3.7% 242 99 Lake Charles, LA S 28.9 20.3% 35.5% 3.9% 243 92 Lubbock, TX M 28.9 26.9% 37.6% 3.0% 244 93 York-Hanover, PA M 28.6 21.9% 39.1% 3.5% 245 94 Mobile, AL M 28.5 22.3% 30.4% 3.6% 246 100 Grand Forks, ND-MN S 28.5 27.4% 17.3% 3.2% 247 95 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX M 28.4 17.1% 63.6% 3.7% 248 101 Yuba City, CA S 28.4 17.0% 61.7% 3.8% 249 96 Olympia-Tumwater, WA M 28.4 32.0% 41.8% 2.1% 250 97 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA M 28.4 20.3% 19.3% 4.0% 251 102 Lewiston, ID-WA S 28.3 22.1% 32.5% 3.5% 252 98 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL M 28.2 26.5% 33.4% 2.9% 253 99 Toledo, OH M 28.2 24.8% 10.5% 3.5% 254 100 Knoxville, TN M 28.1 27.1% 55.2% 2.5% 255 101 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL M 28.0 18.4% 60.9% 3.5% 256 103 Lewiston-Auburn, ME S 28.0 18.3% 35.8% 3.9% 257 104 Bangor, ME S 27.9 23.6% 30.0% 3.3% 258 105 Midland, TX S 27.9 27.3% 49.9% 2.5% 259 102 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA M 27.9 24.5% 31.8% 3.1% 260 106 Florence, SC S 27.9 20.5% 33.9% 3.6% 261 107 Springfield, OH S 27.8 18.9% 23.5% 4.0% 262 103 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC M 27.8 17.5% 40.5% 3.9% 263 108 Punta Gorda, FL S 27.8 21.0% 40.3% 3.4% 264 104 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX M 27.8 16.2% 84.9% 3.3% 265 109 Gainesville, GA S 27.7 21.7% 59.6% 3.0% 266 110 Joplin, MO S 27.6 19.9% 38.3% 3.6% 267 111 St. Cloud, MN S 27.6 24.0% 37.9% 3.0% 268 112 Williamsport, PA S 27.6 19.0% 26.1% 3.9% 269 105 Cedar Rapids, IA M 27.5 27.6% 26.3% 2.7% 270 113 Tuscaloosa, AL S 27.4 24.7% 37.1% 2.9% 271 114 Eau Claire, WI S 27.3 25.0% 31.8% 2.9% 272 115 Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA S 27.1 23.7% 39.5% 2.9% 273 116 Tyler, TX S 27.1 25.3% 40.7% 2.7% 274 106 Fort Wayne, IN M 27.0 24.3% 27.2% 3.0% 275 117 Racine, WI S 26.9 23.4% 25.4% 3.2% 276 118 Beckley, WV S 26.9 15.9% 33.9% 4.0% 277 119 Hammond, LA S 26.4 19.3% 58.0% 3.0% 278 107 Salem, OR M 26.3 23.6% 34.3% 2.8% 279 120 Topeka, KS S 26.2 26.3% 18.4% 2.7% 280 121 Hot Springs, AR S 26.1 21.1% 31.4% 3.1% 281 122 Pueblo, CO S 26.0 21.3% 37.2% 3.0% 282 123 Lima, OH S 25.8 17.1% 27.2% 3.7% 283 124 Sheboygan, WI S 25.8 21.1% 26.0% 3.2% 284 125 Jefferson City, MO S 25.7 24.0% 23.0% 2.8% 285 126 Burlington, NC S 25.6 22.0% 36.8% 2.8% 286 127 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA S 25.5 25.0% 18.1% 2.7% 287 128 Michigan City-La Porte, IN S 25.3 17.4% 31.5% 3.4% 288 108 Laredo, TX M 25.3 16.8% 70.4% 2.9% 289 129 Jacksonville, NC S 25.3 17.8% 56.3% 3.0% 290 130 Muskegon, MI S 25.3 17.3% 31.5% 3.4% 291 109 South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI M 25.3 24.4% 17.3% 2.7% 292 110 Fort Smith, AR-OK M 25.2 16.7% 33.0% 3.5% 293 111 Gainesville, FL M 25.0 37.5% 24.2% 0.8% 294 112 Winston-Salem, NC M 25.0 25.7% 66.2% 1.7% 295 113 Amarillo, TX M 24.9 23.4% 31.9% 2.5% 296 114 Columbus, GA-AL M 24.9 21.1% 32.3% 2.8% 297 131 San Angelo, TX S 24.9 22.2% 30.8% 2.7% 298 132 Decatur, AL S 24.8 18.9% 30.2% 3.1% 299 133 Cleveland, TN S 24.8 17.6% 44.1% 3.1% 300 134 Janesville-Beloit, WI S 24.8 19.7% 29.8% 3.0% 301 135 Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH S 24.3 15.7% 20.6% 3.6% 302 115 Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA M 24.1 18.6% 26.2% 3.1% 303 136 Valdosta, GA S 24.0 20.1% 35.4% 2.7% 304 116 Flint, MI M 23.9 19.3% 18.8% 3.0% 305 117 Stockton-Lodi, CA M 23.5 17.2% 53.0% 2.6% 306 118 Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL M 23.4 25.6% 63.8% 1.3% 307 137 Jackson, MI S 23.4 19.1% 22.4% 2.9% 308 138 Abilene, TX S 23.4 22.1% 21.1% 2.5% 309 139 Watertown-Fort Drum, NY S 23.4 18.9% 26.2% 2.8% 310 119 Kennewick-Richland, WA M 23.1 24.8% 54.4% 1.5% 311 140 East Stroudsburg, PA S 23.1 22.6% 36.9% 2.1% 312 141 Cumberland, MD-WV S 23.0 16.5% 24.2% 3.1% 313 142 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD S 22.9 20.8% 34.5% 2.3% 314 120 Fresno, CA M 22.6 19.8% 41.1% 2.3% 315 121 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX M 22.4 17.4% 28.9% 2.7% 316 122 Rockford, IL M 22.1 21.0% 23.0% 2.3% 317 143 Mankato-North Mankato, MN S 22.0 28.8% 27.1% 1.2% 318 123 Montgomery, AL M 21.9 25.9% 19.1% 1.7% 319 144 Dothan, AL S 21.8 18.3% 33.2% 2.4% 320 145 Gadsden, AL S 21.7 16.2% 24.2% 2.8% 321 124 Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS M 21.2 19.3% 73.8% 1.4% 322 125 Merced, CA M 21.2 13.5% 59.1% 2.4% 323 146 Rome, GA S 20.9 18.2% 22.4% 2.4% 324 147 Elkhart-Goshen, IN S 20.9 17.8% 29.2% 2.3% 325 148 Goldsboro, NC S 20.8 17.4% 28.4% 2.4% 326 149 Rapid City, SD S 20.8 24.5% 42.0% 1.2% 327 150 Mansfield, OH S 20.7 15.3% 19.3% 2.7% 328 151 Rocky Mount, NC S 20.5 16.3% 28.6% 2.4% 329 152 Hanford-Corcoran, CA S 20.5 12.9% 48.8% 2.5% 330 153 Grand Island, NE S 20.5 18.2% 25.6% 2.2% 331 154 Longview, WA S 20.1 15.6% 36.7% 2.3% 332 126 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA M 20.1 25.9% 39.5% 0.9% 333 155 El Centro, CA S 20.1 12.7% 55.8% 2.3% 334 156 Kokomo, IN S 20.1 19.5% -2.9% 2.4% 335 157 Terre Haute, IN S 19.8 19.4% 14.6% 2.1% 336 158 Alexandria, LA S 19.6 17.7% 25.6% 2.0% 337 127 Modesto, CA M 19.5 16.0% 40.5% 2.0% 338 159 Yuma, AZ S 19.3 13.9% 48.8% 2.1% 339 160 Billings, MT S 19.2 26.8% 28.2% 0.7% 340 161 St. Joseph, MO-KS S 19.0 18.3% 21.9% 1.9% 341 162 Macon, GA S 19.0 20.4% 15.9% 1.7% 342 163 Lawton, OK S 18.8 20.5% 28.1% 1.4% 343 164 Texarkana, TX-AR S 18.6 16.8% 33.8% 1.8% 344 165 Owensboro, KY S 18.3 17.4% 23.0% 1.8% 345 166 Panama City, FL S 17.8 18.8% 43.4% 1.1% 346 167 Morristown, TN S 17.7 14.4% 13.3% 2.2% 347 128 Visalia-Porterville, CA M 17.7 13.3% 47.1% 1.8% 348 168 Odessa, TX S 17.7 13.8% 42.1% 1.8% 349 169 Idaho Falls, ID S 17.4 24.5% 41.4% 0.3% 350 170 Sherman-Denison, TX S 17.3 18.6% 23.3% 1.4% 351 171 Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ S 17.3 13.7% 27.0% 2.0% 352 172 Warner Robins, GA S 17.2 20.1% 74.6% 0.3% 353 129 Lafayette, LA M 17.1 21.6% 107.4% -0.5% 354 173 Wichita Falls, TX S 17.0 20.5% 10.5% 1.3% 355 174 Kankakee, IL S 17.0 16.6% 23.1% 1.6% 356 175 New Bern, NC S 16.6 18.9% 23.6% 1.2% 357 176 Sebring, FL S 15.9 15.1% 23.8% 1.5% 358 177 Parkersburg-Vienna, WV S 15.6 16.9% -33.6% 2.1% 359 178 Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ S 15.5 11.3% 56.0% 1.4% 360 130 Waco, TX M 15.3 19.7% 27.9% 0.6% 361 179 Athens-Clarke County, GA S 15.2 31.6% 20.3% -0.8% 362 180 Monroe, LA S 15.1 21.7% 13.8% 0.6% 363 181 Danville, IL S 14.3 13.9% 8.7% 1.5% 364 131 Bakersfield, CA M 14.2 14.4% 41.6% 0.9% 365 182 Redding, CA S 13.9 17.3% 20.3% 0.7% 366 183 Madera, CA S 13.6 13.0% 36.4% 1.0% 367 184 Dalton, GA S 13.4 12.2% 30.4% 1.1% 368 185 Wenatchee, WA S 13.0 20.2% 21.0% 0.1% 369 186 Houma-Thibodaux, LA S 12.6 13.2% 23.6% 0.9% 370 187 Carson City, NV S 12.5 18.8% 8.5% 0.4% 371 188 Albany, GA S 12.4 16.4% 7.9% 0.7% 372 132 Salinas, CA M 11.6 22.2% 8.6% -0.3% 373 189 Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL S 10.9 17.0% 5.9% 0.3% 374 190 Yakima, WA S 10.6 15.5% 14.9% 0.2% 375 191 Victoria, TX S 10.1 15.7% -6.8% 0.5% 376 133 Corpus Christi, TX M 10.0 17.5% 14.5% -0.2% 377 192 Longview, TX S 9.3 16.1% 12.3% -0.1% 378 193 Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL S 8.0 15.0% 4.6% -0.2% 379 194 Pine Bluff, AR S 6.0 13.8% -6.3% -0.3% 380 195 Farmington, NM S 5.8 12.9% 15.7% -0.6%

Analysis by Mark Schill, Measures are normalized and weighted 50% to point change in educational attainment rate, 25% growth in educated population, and 25% in 2013 educational attainment rate. Point change is the difference between the 2000 and the 2013 educational attainment rate. The Villages, FL, an extreme outlier, was excluded from the analysis. Data source: U.S. Census and American Community Survey.

This piece originally appeared at Forbes..

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Mark Schill is a community process consultant, economic strategist, and public policy researcher with Praxis Strategy Group.

Boston photo by 2nified (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Progressives' War on Suburbia

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 21:41

You are a political party, and you want to secure the electoral majority. But what happens, as is occurring to the Democrats, when the damned electorate that just won’t live the way—in dense cities and apartments—that  you have deemed is best for them?   

This gap between party ideology and demographic reality has led to a disconnect that not only devastated the Democrats this year, but could hurt them in the decades to come. University of Washington demographer Richard Morrill notes that the vast majority of the 153 million Americans who live in  metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000  live in the lower-density suburban places Democrats think they should not. Only 60 million live in core cities.      

Despite these realities, the Democratic Party under Barack Obama has increasingly allied itself with its relatively small core urban base. Simply put, the party cannot win—certainly not in off-year elections—if it doesn’t score well with suburbanites. Indeed, Democrats, as they retreat to their coastal redoubts, have become ever more aggressively anti-suburban, particularly in deep blue states such as California.  “To minimize sprawl” has become a bedrock catchphrase of the core political ideology.   

As will become even more obvious in the lame duck years, the political obsessions of the Obama Democrats largely mirror those of the cities: climate change, gay marriage, feminism, amnesty for the undocumented, and racial redress. These may sometimes be worthy causes, but they don’t address basic issues that effect suburbanites, such as stagnant middle class wages, poor roads, high housing prices, or underperforming schools. None of these concerns elicit much passion among the party’s true believers.

The miscalculation is deep-rooted, and has already cost the Democrats numerous House and Senate seats and at least two governorships. Nationwide, in areas as disparate as east Texas and Maine or Colorado and Maryland, suburban voters deserted the Democrats in droves. The Democrats held on mostly to those peripheral areas that are very wealthy—such as Marin County, California or some D.C. suburban counties—or have large minority populations, particularly African-American.

This is not surprising since the policies and predilections of President Obama and his team are based on a largely exaggerated urban mythology. Former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, for example, has declared the move to the suburbs is “over.” People are, he has claimed, “moving back into central cities and inner ring suburbs.” To help foster this trend, administration policies at HUD and other agencies have been designed to fulfill Donahue’s vision of getting Americans out of their suburban homes and cars and into apartments and trains. These policy initiatives include large “smart city” grants for dense development, restrictions on new building, the promotion of high-speed rail links that would supposedly reconcentrate economic activity in the urban core. The administration’s strong support for regional governments, and its attempts to force suburbs to diversify their populations (even though they are already where minorities increasingly move) are thinly disguised efforts to promote densification and put the squeeze on suburban growth.

Yet, as census data and electoral returns demonstrate, the demographic realities are nothing like what Donahue and the administration insist. The last decennial census showed, if anything, that suburban growth accounted for something close to 90 percent of all metropolitan population increases, a number considerably higher than in the ’90s. Although core cities (urban areas within two miles of downtown) did gain more than 250,000 net residents during the first decade of the new century, surrounding inner ring suburbs actually lost 272,000 residents across the country. In contrast, areas 10 to 20 miles away from city hall gained roughly 15 million net residents.

Since 2010, suburban growth has slowed as young people, hampered by a weak economy and tougher mortgage standards, have not been able to buy houses. But while population growth in the same time period has been roughly even between the suburbs and core cities,  the suburban population, which is so much larger to start with, has continued to expand at a faster rate . According to demographer Morrill, since 2010 the suburbs have added 4.4 million people compared to fewer than 2 million in core cities.

The big problem here is this: the progressives’ war on suburbia is essentially an assault on the preferences of the middle class. Despite the hopes at HUD, the vast majority of Americans—even in most cities and particularly away from the coasts—actually live in single-family homes in low- to mid-density neighborhoods, and overwhelmingly commute by car. If we measure people by how they actually live, notes demographer Wendell Cox, more than 80 percent of those in metropolitan areas have what most would consider a suburban life style.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, there is nothing intrinsically “progressive” about hating suburbs. It was, after all, President Franklin Roosevelt who believed that dispersion and homeownership would make the country much stronger. “A nation of homeowners, of people who own a real share in their land, is unconquerable,” he maintained. This notion of favoring policies that allowed for middle-class and eventually working-class people to own their own homes and a patch of grass was shared by Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Bill Clinton, all of whom were fairly successful in winning over suburban voters.

Suburbanites are not intrinsically Republican. Clinton, noted political analyst Bill Schneider, shared suburban voters’ skeptical view of government’s ability to address problems, and won 47 percent of the suburban vote in 1996. Barack Obama, running as a conciliatory pragmatist in 2008, did even better with some 50 percent. This performance was aided by the growing proportion of racial minorities, including African Americans, who had moved to the suburbs.

But as Obama’s administration took shape, suburban support began to ebb. In 2012, Obama lost the suburbs to Romney  by a two-point margin. In this year’scongressional elections the GOP edge grew to 12 points in the suburbs, which accounted for a majority of the electorate. The  Democrats won by 14 percent in the more urban areas, but these accounted for barely one-third of the total vote. The result was a thorough shellacking of the Democratic party from top to bottom.

Yet even these numbers do not express how critical suburban voters were this year. Much of urban America, particularly in places like Phoenix, Houston, and Las Vegas, is primarily suburban. They have multiple employment centers and the vast majority of commuters take to the roads. Democrats did not do so well in these cities this year, although the party continues to dominate more traditional inner cities dominated by apartment dwellers and mass transit riders. Some hopeful conservative commentators have noted a slight increase in GOP votes in some inner cities, but the percentages are still laughably pathetic.

This can be seen in GOP wins in the governor’s races. Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder got 6.8 percent of the vote in Detroit. Successful Illinois challenger Bruce Rauner won only 20 percent of Chicago’s take, even in the face of gross mismanagement by his Democratic opponent. And Maryland’s Larry Hogan won about 22 percent in Baltimore. In all these elections, it was the suburbs—not paltry gains in the cities—that made the difference. Rauner’s election, for example, was based largely on a 60 percent margin in Chicago’s swing “collar counties.” Boston’s suburbs, particularly in the more working class south, helped assure the gubernatorial election of GOP candidate Charles Baker in this bluest of blue states. Suburban voters also played a huge role in the Republicans’ biggest win—the Texas governorship—giving GOP candidate Greg  Abbott almost two-thirds of their votes.

 Much the same suburban swing can be seen in the critical senatorial races races where the Democrats lost seats. Iowa Republican Joni Ernst lost the city vote but won 58 percent of suburban electorate, almost equaling her show in the rural areas. In Colorado, Corey Gardner also secured a large majority among suburban voters, who accounted for roughly half the total electorate. Finally, in the upset of Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina, successful GOP candidate Thom Tillis ran even better in the suburbs—with some 57 percent of the vote—than he did in the supposedly hardcore conservative countryside.

But the best way to see the suburban impact is to look at the House races. Among the 12 seats that Republicans took from the Democrats, half were located in solidly suburban areas. These included districts surrounding such cities as Raleigh, N.C.; Salt Lake City, which elected black Republican Mia Love; Miami, in a predominately Latino area; Las Vegas, in a suburban district that went for Obama in 2012; and eastern Long Island. The powerful shift in suburban voting also appears to have cost the Democrats two seats in the president’s home state—one in the northern suburbs of Chicago and the other in southern Illinois communities adjacent to St. Louis, a district that has been in Democratic hands for three decades.

So what does this mean for 2016 and beyond? To be sure, the key Democratic urban-centric constituencies—millennials, single women, minorities—likely will turn out in bigger numbers in the next election. But ultimately their numbers will be somewhat balanced by rural and small town voters, who will continue to support conservatives overwhelmingly. Ultimately there is only one truly contested piece of political turf in this country—the suburbs—and who wins there takes the whole enchilada.

There are those, even slightly deluded Republicans, who believe the country is becoming “more urban” and that therefore the suburban edge will mean less in the years ahead. Yet since 2011 the most rapid growth in country, as noted by Trulia’s Jed Kolko, continues to be in the suburbs and exurbs. Some urban cores have recovered nicely, but most often the surrounding city areas have continued to see slow or negative growth.

Nor is this trend likely to reverse in the near future. As Millennials head into their thirties, survey data suggests that most are looking for single family houses and most favor suburban locations where increasingly they will be joined by   immigrants and minorities. And virtually all the fastest growth urban regions—Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Charlotte—remain largely suburban in form and character, while growth is much slower in the more traditional legacy cities such as San Francisco, New York, or Boston.

None of this suggests that that Republicans can take suburban votes for granted. The suburbs are changing in ways that could help progressives, notably by becoming more heavily minority and Millennial. The preferences of these new arrivals will differ from those of previous suburban generations—particularly their views on immigration, the need for open space and cultural liberalism. That said, how likely is it that these new suburbanites will embrace progressive ideologues who continually diss the very places they have chosen to live?

The  progressive “clerisy” and their developer allies may wish to destroy the suburban dream, but they will not be able to stay in office for long with such attitudes. America remains, and likely will remain, a predominately suburban nation for decades to come. This demographic reality means that whoever wins the suburban vote in 2016 and beyond will inherit the political future.

This piece originally appeared at The Daily Beast.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Suburbs photo by Bigstock.

The Reluctant Suburbanite, Or Why San Francisco Doesn’t Always Work

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 07:07

This week I’m helping a friend move house after watching her grapple with some unappealing options for the last couple of years. In the end she’s leaving San Francisco and moving to the suburbs forty-seven miles to the south. She absolutely hates the suburbs, but given all the possibilities it really is the right thing to do under the circumstances. Here’s a little background. She attended Berkeley University in the 1990′s as a foreign exchange student and fell in love with the Bay Area. She went back home, worked very hard, jumped through a million bureaucratic hoops, and eventually became a naturalized citizen. She’s lived here in San Francisco for the last fifteen years. Eight years ago she bought an apartment next door and we became good friends.



Over the years she went from being a starving student to having a good paying job in the tech sector. Her work was initially downtown which was an effortless ten minute commute by BART (the local rail system). But a few years back she landed a job with one of the big companies in Silicon Valley. She had absolutely no desire to schlep that far to work so one of the terms of her employment was she would work from home most of the time and appear in person at the office once in a blue moon when absolutely necessary. That arrangement worked really well in the beginning. But then the nature of her position changed, she was promoted, she got a raise, and she found herself at the office more and more often. She bought a car and endured the long miserable commute with bumper to bumper traffic that took two hours each way and left her in a foul mood. She took the so-called “Google” bus (all the tech companies have private shuttle buses but they’re all generically referred to as the “Google” bus) but there were problems with that too. The company bus takes just as long as driving. While she was able to be more productive as a WiFi enabled passenger she was still spending an extra four hours a day schlepping back and forth. This was in addition to some very long hours at the office that sometimes involved spending the night solving complex urgent problems or synchronizing with coworkers in India or Singapore. Her life essentially became her job and her commute with little room for anything else. She wasn’t happy and she wasn’t even able to enjoy the things that she loved about living in San Francisco.

There’s another aspect of the situation here in San Francisco that motivated her to leave. On three separate occasions in the last year she was approached by strangers as she got on or off the company bus. One guy spit on her, another called her a (well, I won’t use the actual word here, but it’s a crude reference to a female body part) and another guy lectured her about how all the newly arrived tech people were destroying the city. She began to feel distinctly unwelcome in her own neighborhood – and by people who may not even have lived here as long as she has. The irony of the situation is that because she plans to eventually return to San Francisco she needs to keep her apartment. She can’t sell it because she may never be able to afford to buy a new place here. But she can’t rent it either because local regulations make it extraordinarily difficult to remove tenants once they get settled in. In effect she wouldn’t be able to move back into her own home without a significant amount of sturm and drang and a big financial and legal battle. She’d love to rent the place for a few years so the rental income would cover her mortgage, but instead she’s leaving her apartment empty and paying both the city and suburban mortgages. It’s the only logical thing to do under the circumstances. The ordinances that are designed to protect renters are working to take units off the market since no sane person wants to be a landlord in the city.

You might ask why she doesn’t just quit her job. She did consider it. But she does a very specific kind of thing and doesn’t want to give up her position and the challenges that only a particular kind of company can provide. If she wants to continue in her career she’s most likely going to have to work for one of the other big companies in the southern suburbs. The job wasn’t the problem. The commute was. Now I can picture some of you out there rolling your eyes about this woman and her “problems”. Poor baby. But her dilemma is very similar to a lot of people who need to stay in a job for all sorts of reasons. For example, I know teachers and cops who are so over their jobs, but they’ve been plugging away for an eternity and they just need to hang in there for a few more years in order to collect a full pension. I know other people who lost their jobs and are now forced to do work elsewhere in order to make ends meet. People have their reasons and it’s hard to argue when you start poking at the particulars.


So here’s what her new place is like. The house is a 1947 tract home with a patch of front lawn and a wee little back yard. She’s got two bedrooms and two baths. It’s cute and she and I agree that it’s very comfortable and has everything most people would want or need in a home. And at $645,000 it’s significantly bigger and less expensive than her one bedroom apartment in the city which is estimated at around $850,000. (She didn’t pay anything like that eight years ago, but prices have skyrocketed lately.) The really important thing about this house is its location a mile from her office. She could ride a bicycle to work if she wanted to, although she will almost certainly drive or take the light rail. It’s physically possible to ride a bike, but it isn’t necessarily safe or pleasant given the wide roads and high speed of the cars and trucks whizzing by. In fact, once you step off the front lawn there really isn’t anything in her neighborhood that’s even remotely worth walking to or as pleasant as what she’s leaving behind in San Francisco. The only place to buy milk and eggs was the corner gas station. But here’s where it gets interesting…


I asked her where she’d eat since the only places in evidence were drive-thru fast food joints and low end chain restaurants in strip malls. She explained that her company (like all the companies in Silicon Valley) provides a variety of high quality heavily subsidized restaurants within the corporate campus. In fact she invited me to explore the place and we had lunch together a couple of times. Once I registered, went through security, and entered the complex there was an entire self-contained world to explore. These places employ tens of thousands of people from all over the world. At lunch there was excellent dim sum, samosas, saag paneer, dolmas, kibbeh, long salad bars, boreks, beef steaks and potatoes – all locally sourced, organic, seasonal, and beautifully prepared by professional chefs. Kosher? Sure. Halal? No problem. Vegetarian? Of course. Special menu for Diwali? You bet. It was all very good and ridiculously inexpensive. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night healthy snacks… they have it covered. We dined indoors, but most people drifted out to one of the many al fresco areas. As we walked from building to building I noticed well populated lounges for relaxation and socializing, Starbucks, volleyball courts, pool tables. There’s a farmers market in the parking lot. There’s a dry cleaners. A masseuse or manicurist can be summoned if need be. These companies have essentially taken over the functions of a town and provided them internally for their employees. Partly they do these things to keep their workers happy. Partly it keeps people at work longer than they might otherwise be willing to stay. But on a fundamental level these companies must know that their location in soul crushing sprawl is so lifeless and unsatisfying that they need to compensate by recreating all the aspects of a real town inside the landscaped berms of low rise office parks. And what about the people who live in the area but don’t work for one of these companies and don’t have security clearance to enjoy the buffet and foreign cinema night?

I understand why she’s moving, but I wouldn’t want to live there myself.

John Sanphillippo lives in San Francisco and blogs about urbanism, adaptation, and resilience at He's a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, films videos for, and is a regular contributor to He earns his living by buying, renovating, and renting undervalued properties in places that have good long term prospects. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Back to Vlasic

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 22:29

Earlier this year a trend called “normcore” got a lot of press. Normcore is a fashion idea based on wearing boring, undistinguished clothing such as that from the Gap. Jerry Seinfeld is a normcore fashion icon.

While normcore was at least in part a joke, I think it illustrates why trend chasing by uncool cities will never make them cool. So you live in some place which isn’t on everyone’s list of the coolest cities. You read all about what’s happening in places like Brooklyn with micro-roasters, micro-breweries, cupcake shops, and artisanal pickles, and you’re like wow, my city has all that now, too. We’ve arrived.

No you haven’t. Do you think for a minute that the cool kids are going to let you just catch up and join the club? It doesn’t work that way. By the time you get to where they were, they’ve moved on to something else. You’ll never catch up doing it that way.

The idea of normcore, though probably just ephemera, shows how quickly the script could be flipped on you. Just as you finally master pretentious esoterica, the cool kids suddenly revert back to ordinary.

I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see something like that happen, actually. While I shouldn’t underestimate the ability of creative people to continue playing leapfrog to new levels of local, bespoke, exclusive, etc., at some point that trend will be played out. Then were do you go? Back to the comfort of ordinary.

Just when your Rust Belt burg finally has seven different artisanal pickle purveyors, don’t be surprised when the New York Times does an article talking about how the latest trend in Brooklyn is Vlasic kosher dill spears. (In an era in which Millennials are under huge financial pressure, this, like the sharing economy, would also be conveniently a matter of self-interest). Heck, maybe they already have and I just missed it.

Again, it’s like the way that these industrial towns abandoned their local culture to pursue cool city culture, only to have those cool cities re-appropriate working class culture – Pabst, workwear brands, etc – for themselves. Now these Rust Belt cities are re-importing their own culture back as supplicants. Remember, back in the 90s, the cool cities list used to frequently include the number of Starbucks locations as an indicator. Things change fast.

I like being able to get a good cup of coffee in these industrial towns now. I think it’s great for cities to have nicer stuff. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that by itself will change your relative standing in the marketplace.

Aaron M. Renn is an independent writer on urban affairs and the founder of Telestrian, a data analysis and mapping tool. He writes at The Urbanophile, where this piece originally appeared

Canada’s Prairie Cities Step Up

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 06:27

Traditionally, the discussion of Canadian urban issues focussed almost exclusively on the Big Three cities: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, with the occasional nod to Ottawa. Calgary, Winnipeg, and Regina were generally only mentioned as punchlines, and, until recently, no one in urban Canada really knew what was going on in Edmonton other than that they had a winning hockey team in the '80s and a really big mall. Saskatoon, which Joni Mitchell famously escaped as soon as she could, hasn’t historically been on anyone’s radar, and Regina is scarcely mentioned outside the context of football. It’s not surprising that many Prairie residents are defensive or bashful about their cities, given the PR they’ve gotten over the years. But from an outsider perspective, now is a very good time to live on the Prairies.

With Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, and Saskatoon perennially vying for the title of fastest growing Canadian city, and with Winnipeg in the early stages of an urban renaissance, it’s getting harder to ignore Canada’s Prairie cities. The narrative is shifting. The election of young, urbane, and pragmatic mayors in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg has put the spotlight on these once ignored cities.

Naheed Nenshi, a Harvard-educated McKinsey consultant turned university instructor, was improbably elected Mayor of Calgary in a 2010 landslide victory. His quick wit and social media savvy have made him a darling of Canadian urbanists. He was recently short-listed for the World Mayor Prize. Regardless of what one thinks of his policy agenda, he is a good ambassador for the city.

Not to be outdone, Edmonton elected 34-year-old city councillor and self-proclaimed nerd Don Iveson as mayor in 2013. Iveson recently made headlines for showing up at a comic expo in full Star Trek attire. His nerd-chic appeal has resonated with a cohort of young Edmontonians who feel that the city’s creative community gets short shrift. He, like Nenshi, is thought of as a smart, moderate mayor, an image that flies in the face of the redneck Albertan stereotype that hasn’t been an accurate representation of either of these Alberta cities for quite some time.

Winnipeg has followed suit, electing privacy lawyer Brian Bowman as mayor. The 43-year-old has chaired both the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. Like Nenshi and Iveson, Bowman was elected with a diverse support base, including the business and arts communities. Being of Metis descent, he is also considered to be in a strong position to address some of the challenges facing the city’s large, indigenous population.

The three mayors have more in common than belonging to roughly the same age cohort. All three are seen as moderates, and all have had some minor political experience but aren’t identified strongly with any political party. Each grew up in his respective city. Their biographies underscore an often overlooked advantage of Prairie cities: opportunities for economic mobility.

As Canada’s Big Three cities get more expensive, Prairie cities are becoming increasingly attractive to recent graduates and early career professionals. Relatively affordable rents and tighter labour markets make them bargains, relative to Toronto or Vancouver. Tighter labour markets combined with the general default instinct among young professionals and graduates to move to Toronto or Vancouver mean that Prairie cities are a good place to get from the bottom to the middle in one’s industry. While there is a ceiling – the best paid financial sector employees will be in Toronto for the foreseeable future – there is less competition. Being able to live in the most attractive urban neighbourhoods for less than the cost of living in generally undesirable Toronto neighbourhoods, or being able to buy a house for a fraction of the sale price in Vancouver, sweetens the deal.

Prairie cities are also a great place to take a chance. Lower rents mean that someone who wants to open a business needs to accumulate less capital and borrow less money than he or she would in a bigger city. That makes opening a restaurant or founding a start-up a less risky proposition. The same goes for aspiring artists. Relatively cheap gallery space makes it much easier to display one’s work. Whereas it might take family connections or years of networking to get on the board of a non-profit in Toronto or Vancouver, opportunities abound on the Prairies.

In the world of politics, contrast Nenshi, Iveson, and Bowman, all from fairly ordinary families, with the winner of the last Toronto election.

Toronto’s new mayor, John Tory, was born to the founder of the prestigious law firm Torys LLP. Tory was given his start in business at telecom giant Rogers by family friend Ted Rogers, the son of Rogers founder Edward Rogers, and went on to later run Rogers. His career also included running the Canadian Football League, making partner at the family firm, serving as principle secretary to former Premier of Ontario Bill Davis, chairing the campaign of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and leading the official opposition in the Ontario legislature. In short, John Tory is the epitome of the Canadian establishment. His chief opponents weren’t exactly political novices either.

Could Nenshi, Iveson, or Bowman have plausibly become the Mayor of Toronto? The answer is likely no. While some might argue that the level of political competition is necessarily higher in Toronto, the bigger reason is that the entrenched political and business elites in the three major cities have more clout than their Prairie counterparts.

Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, and Saskatoon are dominated by new money. While Winnipeg has some influential legacy families, the political barriers to entry are generally much lower than they are in Toronto. A person of Bowman’s upbringing would have had an exceedingly difficult time becoming chair of the Chamber of Commerce in Toronto. An academic City Hall gadfly like Nenshi wouldn’t have a chance, even if he considered making a run for Mayor of Toronto. And someone as young as Iveson would have a hard time getting elected as a city councillor in Toronto, let alone as mayor. That isn’t meant to take away from them in the least. It is merely a recognition that the political system in Toronto is much more elite-driven.

The combination of affordability, opportunity, and economic mobility presents a major opportunity for Canadian Prairies cities. Lower political barriers to entry can facilitate more responsive local governments. Relative isolation can help to spawn innovation of necessity. And upward mobility can help lure young talent from across the county.

Cynically – or optimistically, depending on one’s view – none of these young mayors has a great deal of power to bend the trajectory of their cities. Mayors are merely single votes on councils, and even city councils are only one of many actors that shape these respective cities. Arguably the most important thing that mayors can do is serve as good ambassadors for their cities. The first step is to convince residents of the reality that things are going pretty well, and even better times lay ahead. The rest of the world won’t believe in Prairie cities until their own residents do. Civic pride is contagious.

So far Nenshi has been an exceptional civic booster, and Iveson appears to be on that trajectory, too. Bowman seems keen on following in their footsteps. Hopefully, mayors and councillors in the rest of the Prairie cities can do the same. Prairie cities are having a moment, and that moment could potentially be a very long and a very good one.

Steve Lafleur is the Assistant Director of Research for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and has lived in every major Prairie city with the exception of Saskatoon.

Flickr Photo by Elsie, Calgary Reviews: A chai latte at Caffe Rosso, Calgary

Measuring Current Metropolitan Area Growth from 1900

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 21:38

Growth in the current land areas of the 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million) provides an effective overview of changes in how the population has been redistributed United States since 1900. These metropolitan areas are composed of nearly 440 counties, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget for 2013. There have been such substantial changes in metropolitan area concepts and definitions that reliable comparisons extending beyond a decade from Census Bureau are impossible. (See Caution: Note 1).

In 1900, the land areas which hold today’s major metropolitan areas had a population of 27.6 million. This was only 36 percent of the national population, which stood at 76.2 million. By 2010, these 52 areas had reached 169.5 million population, approximately 55 percent of the nation's 308.7 million population (Figure 1). Over the period of 1900 to 2010, the 52 areas captured 61 percent of the nation's growth, while the balance of the nation accounted for the other 39 percent.

From 1900

The growth was anything but equal among the nation's four Census Bureau regions (metropolitan areas were allocated using the Census Bureau region of the historical core municipality). In 1900, the East was dominant, with 45 percent of the population of the 52 areas. The Midwest was a strong second with 28 percent, while the South had 21 percent of the population. The West accounted for only six percent of the population of the 52 areas.

By comparison, growth since 1900 has been in the parts of the country least populated in 1900. The South alone obtained 35 percent of the population increase, followed by the West with 30 percent of the increase. The East gained only 18 percent of the increase, while the Midwest gained only 17 percent.

From 1950

Things had already begun to change significantly by 1950, when the East's share had fallen to 37 percent. The Midwest experienced a slight and dropped to 26 percent, while the South remained at 21 percent. The biggest change was in the West, which nearly tripled its percentage of the population, to 16 percent.

The changes were much more significant to 2010. The formerly dominant East has now been displaced by the South, with 33 percent of the population. The West also passed the East, with 26 percent of the population. The East's share had fallen to 22 percent, while the Midwest had fallen substantially, to 19 percent (Figure 2).

Between 1950 and 1970 the highest growth was in the South, which added 11 million residents and the lowest growth was in the East, which added 7 million residents. However, after 1970 there was a sea– change in regional population growth. Since that time, the East and Midwest have fallen strongly behind. From 1970 to 2010, the East added only 3.2 million residents, less than one half the 7.3 million residents added between 1950 and 1970. The Midwest did modestly better, adding 5.6 million residents between 1970 and 2010, but well below the 7.7 million residents added between 1950 and 1970.

The big gains were made in the South and West. Between 1950 and 1970, the West added nearly as many new residents (10.4 million) as the South (11.0 million), despite starting from a smaller base. However, since 1970, the momentum has shifted to the South which added nearly 30 million new residents from 1970 to 2010. The West also grew strongly, but fell behind the South in growth, with an increase of 22 million. The South accounted for 49 percent of the growth over the period. The substantial deceleration of population growth in California's coastal metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose) was a major factor in slowing the West's growth rate (Figure 3).

Metropolitan Highlights

A review of the individual metropolitan areas indicates the pervasiveness of growth in the South and West and the more lackluster growth of the East and Midwest. The five fastest growing current metropolitan areas from 1900, 1950, and 1980 to 2010 were all in the South and West. The five slowest growing were all in the East and Midwest (Table).

2010 Metropolitan Area Population Compared to 1900 2013 Geographical Definitions TOP 10     FROM 1900 TO 2010 Times 1900 1 Miami 1113 2 Phoenix 150 3 Orlando 97 4 Riverside-San Bernardino 92 5 San Diego 88 FROM 1950 TO 2010 Times 1950 1 Las Vegas 40.7 2 Orlando 11.2 3 Phoenix 11.2 4 Riverside-San Bernardino 9.4 5 Miami 8.0 FROM 1980 TO 2010 Times 1980 1 Las Vegas 4.21 2 Austin 2.93 3 Raleigh 2.81 4 Riverside-San Bernardino 2.71 5 Orlando 2.71 TOP 10     FROM 1900 TO 2010 Times 1900 1 Pittsburgh 1 2 Buffalo 1 3 Providence 1 4 Boston 1 5 Rochester 1 FROM 1950 TO 2010 Times 1950 1 Pittsburgh 0.91 2 Buffalo 1.04 3 Cleveland 1.24 4 Detroit 1.36 5 Providence 1.36 FROM 1980 TO 2010 Times 1980 1 Pittsburgh 0.89 2 New Orleans 0.91 3 Buffalo 0.91 4 Cleveland 0.96 5 Detroit 0.99


No city can compare to the growth registered by Miami since 1900. At that time, the three counties of the 2013 metropolitan area had only 5,000 residents. By 2010, Miami had reached 5.6 million and was more than 1,100 times its size in 1900. Next was fast growing Phoenix, which at 150 times its 1900 size (28,000), grew at only a fraction of Miami's growth. Orlando is 97 times its 1900 size, Riverside-San Bernardino is 92 times, and San Diego is 88 times its 1900 population.

The slowest growing were all in the East, although each grew over the past century. Pittsburgh grew the slowest and was 1.81 times its 1900 size in 2010. Buffalo, Providence, Boston and Rochester rounded out the slowest growing five from 1900.

From 1950, Las Vegas was the fastest growing, with a 2010 population 40.7 times that of 60 years before (complete data is not available for Las Vegas in 1900). Orlando, Phoenix, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Miami were also in the top five.

The bottom five from 1950 was led by Pittsburgh, which lost population to 2010. The other four, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Providence all gained, but only modestly.

Las Vegas was also the fastest growing since 1980, with a 2010 population was 4.21 times its 1980 level. The other top five cities were Austin, Raleigh, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Orlando.

The bottom five between 1980 and 2010 followed the pattern since 1950, with the exception of New Orleans, which ranked second slowest growing. This reflects largely the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Other than New Orleans, the four slowest growing were Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit. All five of these cities lost population from 1980.

The data for all 52 metropolitan areas for each census year (and 2013) is on this webpage.

The United States: Moving South and Increasingly

The population shifts in the United States have been substantial over the past 110 years. In 1900, nearly three quarters of the population of these cities was located in the East and Midwest. By 2010, the balance had shifted substantially, with 59 percent of the population in the major metropolitan areas of the South and West. However, in the West, coastal California growth rates are beginning to look more like those of the East and Midwest. Current projections suggest that this shift will continue, though nothing about the future is a certainty.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.


Note 1: Caution: This article compares 2013 geographical boundaries of metropolitan areas to census years between 1900 and 2010. In years before 2010, metropolitan area geographical definitions were different from 2010 and before 2000 metropolitan area conceptual definitions were different. As a result, this article does not compare 2013 metropolitan areas with metropolitan areas as defined in any year before 2013.

Note 2: The population data referred to is for the current county composition of metropolitan areas. These data are not adjusted for county boundary changes that may have occurred. For example, no data is available for Las Vegas in 1900, because its one metropolitan county, Clark, did not exist until the 1910 census.

Top photo: Miami's Elser's Pier in the 1920s.

Long Island Suburbs: How Planners Should Treat Age Spots

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 21:38

Long Island is the birthplace of suburbia, from colonial-period Brooklyn to Levittown and beyond, and its economy has survived booms and busts since the 1950s. As stagnant as it may be, if it's anything, it is resilient. Today, its problems mirror those of many older suburban areas scattered across the country, and, like many other suburbs, its problems cannot be solved by simply shoehorning in more development - and more tax revenue. Are policymakers addressing the true thorns in the region's side: Affordable housing, cost-of-living, taxes, racism and fear of change? Planners nationwide could learn much from Long Island if they looked closely at its successes and its failures, and how both evolved.

In the push to expand housing after WWII, Long Island's potato fields became subdivisions that, with the passage of time, became increasingly monochromatic, as well as increasingly expensive. The planners of yesteryear crafted strategies that set national precedents in farmland and open space preservation, while simultaneously working to manage unprecedented residential and commercial expansion. During these boom years, planners urged municipalities to protect open space, resulting in yet another set of national benchmarks in regard to groundwater protection.

Yet the recommendations for an overtly aggressive open space acquisition program were pared down and never fully capitalized upon. Few, if any, of other recommendations leapt from the leather-bound pages of the academic planning texts to become fully implemented. Planning had its moment in the sun on Long Island, but it was quickly eclipsed by special interests with money to spend and projects to greenlight. Today,the academic approach of the previous decades is mostly gone, with the Island's growth being managed by development firms and nonprofit stakeholder groups. Our current long-term strategies lack a detached professionalism that is unhindered by political forces and agenda-driven ideas.

The solution being currently proposed is a call for more “responsible” growth. The question is, if growth got Long Island into this mess, how can it eventually get us out? Multifamily units are being proposed under the umbrella of responsible growth, as is the placement of additional sewers. With the arrival of sewers, it is said that growth will be allowed to flourish, helping to keep the wealthy Millennials, stop the cries of “brain drain” and subsequent regional death, and generate jobs.

At last month's Destination LI conference (#LIREDI hashtag on Twitter), a group of Millennials spoke about the need for sewers as well as the need for additional growth of multifamily-type units. It was nice to see a new generation become interested and invested in Long Island, and even go so far as to say that this next generation will “fight” to stay in the region. But there was little mention of the fact that there has been an overall 89% increase of units from 1989 to present, or that groundwater quality is compromised as a direct link to overdevelopment, or about the region's sole source aquifer that dictates appropriate density levels.

What are the realities of building truly affordable housing in suburban Long Island's aging suburbs? How can costs be pared down so developers are enticed to build without relying on density to generate profit?

Planners by trade have to be optimistic, but they must also be realistic when assessing a region's needs and growth strategies. The current approach by developers and stakeholders is fueled by optimism, but studies the issues on a shallow level instead of working to solve our long-established problems.

The biggest one? In each town and village hall across Long Island, and in our Nassau-Suffolk region, municipalities often grant density in places where it is simply not appropriate. If an area has a comprehensive plan in place, development should follow the usage that was already determined. But, more often than not, local government awards variances that drastically increase density under the guise of “responsible growth”. These variances add up to a high density sprawl that is worse than the traditional sprawl that they were meant to replace in the first place. They fly in the face of the professional planning efforts undertaken on Long Island over the previous decades. We need a return to professionalism if we are going to create legitimate and workable solutions.

Urban planning is not merely saying that development is “responsible,” it's assessing our regions needs by quantifying market trends, environmental data and resident feedback. Planning for our future should not be about catering to one age demographic, but rather, about addressing the needs of all Long Islanders over the course of the future decades. Instead of planning sessions focused on urging downtown development to attract jobs, planners should be justifying why development should be placed in a given downtown, or anywhere else.

Many tout the expansion of transit, but few address the marked lack of population density that's necessary to drive the demand and fiscal support of such expansions, or discuss the MTA's frequent capital budget shortfalls. Planning should be crafted from a scientific and methodological approach, not from buzzwords, faulty surveys or ideal conditions that are neatly summed up on a PowerPoint slide.

Saying we need affordable housing is easy. Execution of the concept on Long Island has been extremely difficult for decades. Yet this uncomfortable reality is not discussed on panels. Our regional problems require us to confront our balkanized districts, dissect the unbalanced economics of our real estate development, and deal with a heritage of racism furthered by exclusionary municipal jurisdictions.

Sheer density won't change sixty years of racial division, jumpstart our stagnant economy , or upgrade our infrastructure to 21st century standards. And, despite what county officials and a myriad of developers are saying, more sewers alone will not solve our woes. We need a sewer plan that works in conjunction with a robust open space plan, which in turn works to complement our approaches to economic development.

In other words, we need true regional planning.

To execute our plans, we need professionals. In recent years, municipalities have cut planning staff, and outsourced critically important planning functions to politically-connected boards and stakeholder groups. In Suffolk, the County merged a once nationally-acclaimed department of planning with the economic development department. Despite what anyone says to the contrary, crafting strategies for economic development is not planning. It is a piece of the puzzle, but there are important distinctions that have been forgotten in recent years.

The convenient narratives of 'brain drain', downtown revitalization, and smart growth make it easy to stand behind a podium and tout the benefits of pure, unhindered economic development. But the elephant-sized problem in the room remains. Only this time, instead of being in a single-family home, the elephant's room will be in in a shiny, new multi-family complex.

Richard Murdocco regularly writes on land use and policy issues. A collection of his published work can be found on, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.

Flickr photo by Sean Marshall, Weber House in Hempstead, Suffolk County, on Long Island. A plaque in front of the house, built 1947, commemorates one of the first homes in Levittown, New York, considered America's first planned suburb.

California's Southern Discomfort

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 21:38

We know this was a harsh recession, followed by, at best, a tepid recovery for the vast majority of Americans. But some people and some regions have surged somewhat ahead, while others have stagnated or worse.

Greater Los Angeles fails to make the grade. In per capita growth of gross domestic product since 2010, according to analyst Aaron Renn, our region ranks a very mediocre 38th out of 52 metro areas, with a measly 1.5 percent, well below the national average of 3.8 percent. It places behind up-and-comers among the Texas cities, Oklahoma City and some tech-oriented clusters – Silicon Valley ranked second, after Houston. These places have growth rates roughly twice those of the Southland.

When we wanted to drill down to the more local level, and analyze what is happening by county, we needed to go to the Census Bureau, as opposed to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, where we could glean what is happening in our communities. Our analysis is based on those figures, and neither of us hopes the Southern California region continues to stagnate or decline.


One of the saddest results of the Great Recession and the weak recovery has been the expansion of poverty across the country. The poverty rate among the country’s 52 largest metropolitan areas, according to the most recent census numbers, grew from 14.9 percent in 1999 to 15.8 percent in 2013, a 7 percent rise. At least one-quarter of that rise has taken place since the recovery began.

Southland politicians, like those in much of California, often decry income inequality and poverty, but they have not been very effective in combatting it. The region has had higher-than-average poverty for well over a decade, and things have not gotten better recently. Since 2009, the Los Angeles region, which includes Orange County, has seen its poverty rate grow by 1.8 percent, 80 percent higher than the national norm. The area ranked 47th out of 52 in terms of increased poverty. Riverside-San Bernardino saw a similar jump, 1.7 percent, in poverty.

The scale of the poverty problem in the Southland is much greater than many imagine. When we broke down the figures, Los Angeles County remained the area with the highest concentration of poverty. L.A. saw a slight reduction in poverty from 1999-2010, but has moved in the other direction more recently. From 2010-13, poverty in L.A. County rose from 17.5 percent to 18.9 percent, an 8 percent increase. Poverty now afflicts a considerably larger portion of the population of Los Angeles than it did in 1999.

But if Los Angeles County endures the largest pocket of poverty, there’s not much for the surrounding counties to shout about. San Bernardino and Riverside counties have each seen rapid 20 percent increases in their poverty rates since 1999; in fact, San Bernardino’s 19.1 percent poverty rate is slightly higher than that of Los Angeles County.

Orange County fares better, but the curse of poverty is spreading even here. Although its 13.5 percent poverty rate lies below the national average, the ranks of the O.C. poor have jumped 30 percent relative to the entire population since 1999. The expansion of poverty as a share of the population has grown by more than 10 percent since 2010.

Low Income Growth and High Housing Prices: A Bad Combination

As befits a region with relatively low GDP growth, incomes in Southern California have stagnated. Median household incomes have dropped in every county in the region, including Ventura and Orange, whose residents boast median household incomes above $70,000, well above the $50,000 range found in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside. Since 2010, the biggest income drops have happened in the Inland Empire, where real incomes have fallen by nearly 7 percent. Los Angeles also has experienced a drop, with real incomes down 3 percent since 2010.

For the most part, the more-affluent suburban counties have done better, consistent with the two-speed U.S. economy. Orange and Ventura enjoy median household incomes a full $20,000 above those of Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire. This is after the smaller 2.1 percent reduction (2010-13) in Orange County real incomes. Real incomes have recovered, albeit slightly, only in Ventura. The biggest hit has been concentrated in those parts of Southern California – Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire – historically most dependent on blue-collar professions in manufacturing, logistics and construction. These are, for the most part, also the most heavily Latino and African American areas of the region.

So, why can’t the Southland replicate the economic boom in the San Francisco Bay Area? Simply put, the Los Angeles region is not the Bay Area, or Seattle. The share of Los Angeles’ jobs that are tied to manufacturing and logistics is twice that of the San Francisco area. Our population is far less well-educated, particularly in the Inland Empire and much of Los Angeles County, and is also far more heavily African American and Latinogroups that have fared particularly poorly. Nationwide, Latino poverty rates, notes a recent Pew study, stand at 28 percent, the highest for any ethnic group.

Alongside the stagnant economy, growing Latino poverty – which is really the key challenge for Southern California – also reflects a high cost of living. This is most profound in terms of housing costs. Overall, the Southland counties – most notably Los Angeles and Orange – suffer among the highest housing cost burdens, relative to income, than virtually anywhere in the country.

This can be seen by looking at what parts of the country have the highest percentages of people paying more than 50 percent of pretax income for housing. According to the Center for Housing Policy and National Housing Conference, 39 percent of working households in the Los Angeles metropolitan area spend more than half their incomes on housing, a somewhat higher rate than in the pricier San Francisco and New York areas and much higher than the national rate of 24 percent of households spending more than half of income on housing, itself far from tolerable.

New Policy Imperatives

Our current mix of state and local policies are neither reviving the regional economy nor reducing poverty. One key reason is that the current political environment – fostered and perpetuated by greens, urban land interests and organized public workers – places little priority on promoting the growth of the tangible economy that tends to employ blue-collar workers. High energy costs, largely due to the state’s Draconian commitment to renewable fuels, are a direct threat to any kind of industrial growth, while highly restrictive housing policies slow any hope of meeting the needs of renters and prospective homeowners.

Of course, one could point out that the Bay Area, the one large region in California experiencing above-average income growth, labors under the same progressive policy regime. But the Bay Area, particularly San Francisco, is already largely deindustrialized and its population far more attractive to digitally based companies. It boasts a far larger pool of venture capital, and a unique network to support tech.

A Google or an Apple can easily move its energy-hungry arrays of computer servers to less-expensive states, along with its device manufacturing. The more grass-roots based, small-business-oriented Southland economy is far less able to adapt to regulatory strictures from Sacramento.

Southern California leaders clearly need to understand that the region is not winning under the current policy environment in the state. Steps to re-energize our basic industries and restart new housing, particularly single-family housing desired by most young families, need to be taken. Other steps, from reforming the schools and rebuilding basic infrastructure to modernizing higher education, also are imperative. At risk is not just a comfortable way of life, but also the legacy of opportunity that has been so critical to this region from its earliest days, a legacy now at extreme risk.

This piece first appeared at the Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

The New Bohemia: Not Where You Expect

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 22:00

There’s an established image in the collective imagination of the kinds of places artsy types tend to live: the painter in a Paris garret, the actor in a Brooklyn brownstone, the musician in a San Francisco Victorian, or the playwright in a fisherman’s shack on Cape Cod. It’s all very romantic. We currently associate these places with vacation destinations and cutting edge high culture so of course that’s where the avant garde would naturally congregate. But people forget that in their day these were the cheapest least desirable locations available. These spots were economically depressed, populated by the lower working class, immigrants, “working girls”, and the substance abusers of their day. In short, they were places that respectable people avoided and where the authorities generally turned a blind eye. How else could artists survive without family money or the income that comes with full time employment in the mainstream economy? And where else could fringe elements of various subcultures thrive without inhibition from the dominant culture? It’s only after decades of anonymous incubation that these neighborhoods eventually became safe and vibrant enough to attract middle class residents in search of good food, nightlife, and tourist photo opportunities.

The current reality is that the so-called “Creative Class” is being priced out of the places they helped make so desirable in the first place. Many lament their expulsion brought on by gentrification. Fair enough. In many respects it’s sad that these dynamic places are becoming more homogenized and sometimes even sterilized since well paid tech workers, financiers, and corporate lawyers are great at consuming culture, but pretty spotty when it comes to generating it. Then again… let’s not forget that without wealthy patrons or state support there would be no one to underwrite the art in question. Well-intentioned government attempts to preserve low rents through legislation or the construction of subsidized housing units are helpful to the handful of people that are lucky enough to participate. But economic reality generally tends toward gentrification and displacement. So where are the new artist colonies likely to spring up? In other words, where are the new cheap undesirable places where fringe types can thrive without attracting the attention of the authorities? I see three options.


First, for the “traditional” rebel artist who can no longer afford New York, Boston, D.C. or Chicago there’s Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. These Rust Belt cities have a fine stock of premium buildings and neighborhoods chock full of 19th century architectural gems and grand public parks and plazas at deeply discounted prices. If you want the authentic look and feel of a previous generation’s artist enclave they exist in second, third, and fourth tier cities in America’s forgotten interior. That multi-million dollar industrial live/work loft space in Manhattan is available elsewhere for a tiny fraction of a percent of the cost. A clever member of the Creative Class might initially establish her credentials and connections in Los Angeles or Toronto and then set up shop elsewhere to keep overhead low while sending her creations on to paying customers in more expensive markets.


Second, there are thousands of depopulated rural villages that exist everywhere in America once you escape the economic forcefields of pricey metroplexes. Key West, Sedona, Provincetown, Carmel, New Hope, and Rehobeth have all been bought up and Disneyfied by now. But there are an unlimited number of small towns and villages that have similar qualities at an infinitely lower price point. Most of these remote country outposts will never become anything different from what they are now – quiet backwaters populated by contented older folks and restless young people eager to flee. But some of them will be colonized by just enough funky individuals that a self-reinforcing community will be able to take root.

Third, and in my opinion the most viable and likely scenario, involves the reinvigoration of failed suburban districts. When I look around at the desolate commercial strip corridors (pick a crappy suburb… any crappy suburb anywhere from the outskirts of Charlotte to the damp underbelly of Seattle) I can imagine the new “arts districts” of the future. Dead suburban retail buildings and their associated parking lots are the current equivalent of abandoned industrial warehouses or cheap seventh floor walk up apartments. These properties and locations are most ripe for transformation over time. My guess is that most of the action early on will not be out front facing the highway, but in back behind the semi-abandoned muffler shops, defunct carpet emporiums, and burned out supermarkets. The rear loading docks and back alleys typically face quiet subdivisions of modest homes along more humanely scaled streets. It’s possible for individuals to create pleasant convivial places that engage with a selective element of the community while not attracting the attention of code enforcement agencies.


Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns here calls this “Good Enough Urbanism”. It may not look like renaissance Florence or Greenwich Village, but it gets the job done in a hurry on a tight budget without the need for committees or regulatory approval. The key to success hangs on likeminded members of an interconnected community working together in an informal and organic way. Some places will develop around a cohesive social core and thrive. Most others will lack focus and the required critical mass and continue to devolve into slums. Happenstance will sort it all out over time. The trajectory is predictable at this point. As architect and urbanist Andres Duany likes to say, “First there are the risk oblivious pioneers, then gradually the neighborhood improves sufficiently to attract the risk aware, then with enough respectable small scale improvements by numerous mom and pops the big developers arrive and prepare the way for the Dentist from New Jersey.”

John Sanphillippo lives in San Francisco and blogs about urbanism, adaptation, and resilience at He's a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, films videos for, and is a regular contributor to He earns his living by buying, renovating, and renting undervalued properties in places that have good long term prospects. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

City and Suburb 2010-2013

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 06:19

Three years is a short time, but perhaps enough to give a sense of what is happening to US metropolitan areas. For both reasons of less uncertainty (and less work for me), I look at just the 107 US metro areas with 500,000 or more people in 2013. These regions house 213 million, two-thirds of the population. I look at the populations of core cities and their suburbs, comparing amounts and rates of change, with further comparison by population size and by region. One definitional problem is what I mean by “core” central city: not the multi-names given by OMB, but rather the historic cities by which we know the places. These can sometimes be a pair, for example, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco-Oakland and San Bernardino-Riverside. Another problem I do not try to deal with is whether there were annexations to the core cities in these 3 years.

City and Suburb: the Nation

The 107 core cities grew to almost 60 million, but still only 28 percent of the metropolitan population, the suburbs to 153 million. The central cities grew by almost 2 million, a 3.4% gain, while suburbs added 4.4 million, for a slower rate of 3.0%, giving value to the claim of urban revitalization in recent years. We can first deconstruct this change by size of metro areas, large (those over 2.25 million), medium (those from 1 to 2.5 million), and “small” (those under 1 million).

The interesting story here is that is that the smaller metros, often thought of as the faster growing, e.g., in the 1990s, were the slowest for 2010-2013 at only 2.5%, for both cities and suburbs. Next were the giant metropolises over 2.5 million, growing at an intermediate rate of 3.2%, again with no difference between cities and suburbs. So the particular successful cities now are the medium-sized metros, here from 1 to 2.5 million, whose cities grew by an impressive 4.3% in 3 years, but with a lower 2.3% growth in their suburbs. These intermediate metro areas also had a much smaller suburban share overall of 58% compared to 74% for the largest areas and 69% for the smaller.

Differences Across Broad Regions, the North, the South and the West

Confirming expectations, and continuing trends of several decades, the North’s metro areas had the highest total population, but the smallest change for both cities and suburbs, but the region also shows the biggest gap between very low suburban (1.3 %) and a not quite so low city rate of 1.8%. The south, continuing a pattern of larger absolute and relative growth, with city growth moderately faster (5.3%) than in their suburbs (4.6%).  In the west, too, cities grew just slightly more than the suburbs.

City and Suburb: Population Change 2010-2013 (Thousands) Size Large Metros (>2.5 mil) Medium Metros (1-2.5 Mil) Small Metros (Under 1 Mil) Total City 2010             31,004                15,557              11,143               57,704 City 2013             32,016                16,261              11,426               59,703 Suburb 2010             87,958                34,959              25,738             148,655 Suburb2013             90,753                35,907              26,368             153,028 % in suburb 74 69 70 72 Large Metros (>2.5 mil) Medium Metros (1-2.5 Mil) Small Metros (Under 1 Mil) Total Total Change % change Total Change % change Total Change % change Total Change % change Metro Change            3,807.0 3.2                 1,624 2.7 914 2.5                 6,345 3.1 City Change            1,008.0 3.2                    675 4.3 283 2.5                 1,966 3.4 Suburb Change            2,799.0 3.2                    949 2.3 631 2.5                 4,379 3 % change in suburbs 74 58 69 69 Region North South West Total City 2010             23,448                17,882              16,358               57,688 City 2013             23,920                18,866              16,958               59,744 Suburb 2010             62,910                48,179              37,565             148,654 Suburb2013             63,732                50,380              38,921             153,033 % in suburb 73 73 70 North  South West Total Total Change % change Total Change % change Total Change % change Total Change Metro Change                1,241 1.4                 3,144 4.7                  1,956 3.6                 6,341 City Change                   422 1.8                    944 5.3                     600 3.7                 1,966 Suburb Change                   892 1.3                 2,201 4.6                  1,356 3.6                 4,449 % change in suburbs 72 70 69


Example City and Suburb Change

Here we examine the full list of places, to find which contribute to the growth of cities and of suburbs. I will note metro areas where the highest absolute and relative growth was in cities (1), or in suburbs (2), and those metro areas, where both city and suburban growth were high. But I will also note metro areas with very low growth and then those which are right in the middle, the average place!  Please see the following table.  The reader can also see the geographic patterns of these differences in absolute and relative growth via two maps, the first showing city growth and the second on suburban growth.

Fast, Slow, and Medium Growth of Cities and Suburbs Fast City Growth Fast Suburb Growth Fast City and Suburb Growth Rate Rate City Rate Suburb Rate Washington 7.4 Houston 7.8 Dallas 6 6 Atlanta 6.6 Boise 6.1 San Antonio 6.2 6.5 Seattle 7.2 Des Moines 7.1 Austin 12 7.7 Charlotte 8.4 Provo 7.1 Orlando 7.2 6.1 New Orleans 13 Raleigh 6.9 7.7 Omaha 6.2 Charleston 6.7 7.3 Durham 7.6 Ft Myers-CapeCoral 7.5 6.6 Denver 8.2 Medium City Growth Medium Suburbs All 3.3 to 3.5% All 2.8 to 3.2 Riverside-SanBernardino Minneapolis Las Vegas Tampa-St Petersburg Provo Baltimore Chattanooga Sacramento Honolulu Richmond Columbia SC Tucson Tulsa Fresno BatonRouge Stockton Madison Slow Growth City Slow Growth Suburb Slow Growth City & Suburb Rate Rate City Rate Suburb Rate Cincinnati 0.2 Albany 0.7 Chicago 0.9 0.8 Baltimore 0.2 Dayton 0.2 Detroit -3.5 0.7 Milwaukee 0.7 Wichita 0.9 St Louis -0.3 0.6 Birmingham -0.1 New Orleans 0.8 Pittsburgh -0.1 0.2 Worcester 0.8 Cleveland -1.7 -0.3 Baton Rouge 0 Providence -0.1 0.2 Youngstown -1.4 Hartford 0.2 0.2 Lancaster -1.5 Buffalo -1 0.1 Portland, ME 0.8 Rochester -0.1 0.4 New Haven 0.7 -0.1 Allentown 0.5 0.8 Akron -0.5 0.7 Syracuse -0.3 0 Toledo -1.7 0.9 Harrisburg -1.4 1.8 Largest Absolute Growth Cities Rate  Absolute Growth Suburbs Rate  Absolute Growth New York 2.8                        231,000 New York 13                     153,000 Dallas 6                        116,000 Los Angeles 2.3                     211,000 LosAngeles 2.4                          92,000 Dallas 6                     208,000 Houston 4.1                          95,000 Houston 7.8                     257,000 San Antonio 6.2                          82,000 Washington 5.3                     266,000 Austin 12                          95,000 Miami 4.5                     238,000 Raleigh 6.9                          84,000 Atlanta 4.3                     205,000 Boston 2.1                     104,000 SanFrancisco 4                     133,000 Phoenix 5                     138,000 Riverside 3.7                     138,000 Seatttle 4.8                     127,000 Denver 5.9                     105,000 Orlando 6.1                     116,000


City Growth

Although New York and Los Angeles had high absolute growth, the rates of growth were modest. In contrast, several southern and western cities showed both high numbers and rates of change—notably Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, three just in Texas, and Raleigh, NC. And there were high rates in more southern and western metro areas: Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte, Durham, but especially New Orleans (recovery), and Seattle and Denver, and the northern outlier, Omaha.

Most slow-growing or losing cities are in the north – 21 cities – with only Birmingham and Baton Rouge in the south, pretty much a continuation of historic deindustrialization trends. Fourteen have slow growing suburbs as well.

Suburb Growth

Suburban growth is absolutely much larger than city growth, so is more prominent on the map.  Fourteen suburban areas added at least 100,000 in three years, led by Washington (266,000), Houston (257,000), and Miami (238,000). But the highest rates of change were for Houston, Des Moines, Boise and Provo, metros where suburban growth was rather faster than central city. Other growing regions include Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Orlando, Charleston, Raleigh and Ft. Myers-Cape Coral – note all are in the south – for which both city and suburban rates of growth were high.

Slow growing suburbs but not the core cities characterized Atlanta, Dayton, Wichita, and New Orleans, but in 15 other metro areas, all in the north, both suburban and core city growth was slow. Moderately fast (5 to 6%) city growth occurred for San Jose, Nashville, Oklahoma City, McAllen, TX, and El Paso. Moderately fast growing suburban regions include Miami, Phoenix, Denver, Nashville, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake, and McAllen.     

City and Suburb: Richer and Poorer

The economic context for cities and suburbs has changed. In the 1970s and 1980s core cities suffered as suburban employment expanded mightily, spurred by the new interstate highways, and also fueled by social change, especially school desegregation, leading to massive white flight. Thus cities became poorer as the more affluent joined the suburban lifestyle. Some cities partly recovered by the late 1980s into the 1990s due to growth of the finance sectors, but suburbanization was still dominant even from 2000 to 2010. But around 1990 some cities – mostly high level regional capitals – began to gentrify, as younger, more affluent, professional and educated, and often unmarried singles or partners, reclaimed desirable older city housing. Some are even reverse commuting to suburban jobs, such as to Microsoft from Seattle.

Such gentrification led to substantial displacement of the poor and of especially of minorities from the cities to adjacent suburbs, again typified by Seattle experience. The process has gone so far that some central cities are no higher in income and lower in poverty than their suburbs, as in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland. The most gentrified cities, as measured by the share of neighborhoods upgraded, are Boston, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, Tampa, Los Angeles and Denver—many of the biggest metro areas, and also cities with substantial growth 2010-2013.

The relative vibrancy and high income of these cities is obviously related as well to the growing inequality of income and wealth of the last 20 years. This has particularly hurt the middle classes, but enabled the educated and professional non-family population to reinvigorate the core cities, even if they have to endure very high housing costs. If the economy improves in terms of jobs and middle class income, I would predict more successful growth in the suburbs than the media and even real estate market folks think, as people find more and more affordable housing available.


The period of review is short, but does show continuing growth of both core cities and their suburbs, but with the growth edge going to cities, unlike the dominant pattern of earlier decade. The “new urbanist” interpretation might be that people have come to support denser urban living, but an equally plausible interpretation is that the recession is not yet over, and that the market and financing for suburban single family home living is still suppressed. And a further realistic view is that the huge increase in inequality, reducing the number and buying power of the middle classes, is the more likely explanation of the relative success of cities, as adult children return to family homes, elderly move in with children, or people just double up in homes or are forced to accept living in apartments, even if they might prefer homes.

Richard Morrill is Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Washington. His research interests include: political geography (voting behavior, redistricting, local governance), population/demography/settlement/migration, urban geography and planning, urban transportation (i.e., old fashioned generalist).

The Demographics That Sank The Democrats In The Midterm Elections

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 06:57

Over the past five years, the Democratic Party has tried to add class warfare to its pre-existing focus on racial and gender grievances, and environmental angst. Shortly after his re-election in 2012, President Obama claimed to have “one mandate . . . to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class.”

Yet despite the economic recovery, it is precisely these voters, particularly the white middle and working classes, who, for now, have deserted the Democrats for the GOP, the assumed party of plutocracy. The key in the 2014 mid-term elections was concern about the economy; early exit polls Tuesday night showed that seven in 10 voters viewed the economy negatively, and this did not help the Democratic cause.

“The Democrats have committed political malpractice,” says Morley Winograd, a longtime party activist and a former top aide to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton years. “They have not discussed the economy and have no real program. They are offering the middle class nothing.”

Winograd believes that the depth of white middle- and working-class angst threatens the bold predictions in recent years about an “emerging Democratic majority” based on women, millennials, minorities and professionals. Non-college educated voters broke heavily for the GOP, according to the exit polling, including some 62% of white non-college voters. This reflects a growing trend: 20 years ago districts with white, working-class majorities tilted slightly Democratic; before the election they favored the GOP by a 5 to 1 margin, and several of the last white, Democratic congressional holdovers from the South, notably West Virginia’s Nick Rahall and Georgia’s John Barrow, went down to defeat Tuesday night.

Perhaps the biggest attrition for the Democrats has been among middle-class voters employed in the private sector, particularly small property and business owners. In the 1980s and 1990s, middle- and working-class people benefited from economic expansions, garnering about half the gains; in the current recovery almost all benefits have gone to the top one percent, particularly the wealthiest sliver of that rarified group.

Rather than the promise of “hope and change,” according to exit polls, 50% of voters said they lack confidence that their children will do better than they have, 10 points higher than in 2010. This is not surprisingly given that nearly 80% state that the recession has not ended, at least for them.

The effectiveness of the Democrats’ class warfare message has been further undermined by the nature of the recovery; while failing most Americans, the Obama era has been very kind to plutocrats of all kinds. Low interest rates have hurt middle-income retirees while helping to send the stock market soaring. Quantitative easing has helped boost the price of assets like high-end real estate; in contrast middle and working class people, as well as small businesses, find access to capital or mortgages still very difficult.

The Republicans made gains in states in New England and the upper Midwest where the vast majority of the population, including the working class, remains far whiter than the national norm of 64% Anglo, such as Massachusetts, where a Republican was elected governor, Michigan, Arkansas and Ohio. Anglos constitute 89% of the population in Iowa and 93% in the former working-class Democratic bastion of West Virginia, two states where the Republicans picked up Senate seats. In Colorado, another big Senate pickup for the GOP, some 80% of the electorate is white. In Kentucky, where Senator Mitch McConnell won a surprisingly easy re-election, only 11% of voters were non-white, down 4% from 2008.

A more intriguing danger sign for Democrats has been the surprisingly strong GOP performance among the educated professionals that embraced Obama early on. This can be seen in gubernatorial victories in deep blue Massachusetts and Maryland,  and a close race in Connecticut; in all three states concerns over taxes have shifted some voters to the GOP. Voters making over $100,000 annually broke 56 to 43 for the GOP, according to NBC’s exit polls. College graduates leaned slightly toward the Republicans, but among white college graduates the GOP led by a decisive 55 to 43 margin.

In Colorado, Senator-elect Cory Gardner, like many successful GOP candidates, also did well with middle-income voters (annual salaries between $50,000 and $100,000), who basically accounted for his margin of victory. These are voters that some Republicans are targeting to instigate a new “tax revolt,” like the one that helped catapult Ronald Reagan into the presidency. The potential may be there if the Republicans can wake up from their blind instinct to protect large corporations and big investors. Certainly Obama’s call for higher income taxes on the wealthy has alienated small business owners and professionals, though barely impacting tech oligarchs, whose wealth is taxed at far lower capital gains rates.

It can be argued that changing demographics will make this year’s blowout a temporary setback. Among Latinos, a key constituency for the Democrats’ future, economic hardships and disappointment at the Democrats’ failure to achieve immigration reform have blunted but hardly reversed voting trends. This year, according to exit polls, Latinos remained strongly Democratic, but down from the nearly three-quarters who supported President Obama in 2012 to something slightly less than two-thirds.

One encouraging sign for Republicans: Texas Governor-elect Abbott won 44% of the Hispanic vote.

Perhaps the more serious may be shifts among millennials, a generation that, for the most part, stands most in danger of proleterianization. Once solidly pro-Democratic, this generation has become increasingly alienated as the economy has failed to produce notable gains. In states across the country, the Republican share of millennial votes grew considerably. According to exit polls, their deficit with voters under 30 has shrunk to 13%. The Republicans actually won among white voters under 30, 53% to 44%, even as they lost 30- to 44-year-olds, 58 to 40. If these trends hold, the generation gap that many Democrats saw as their long-term political meal ticket may prove somewhat less compelling.

If they are losing the middle and working classes, and even some millennials, what are the Democrats left with? They did best in states like California and New York, where there is a high concentration of progressive post-graduates and non-whites, and where many of the sectors benefiting most from the recovery have thrived, notably tech, financial services, and high-end real estate.

Yet these areas of strength could also prove a problem for the Democrats. A party increasingly dominated by progressives in New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Seattle may embrace the liberal social and environmental agenda that captivates party’s loyalists but is less appealing to the middle class. Unless the Democrats develop a compelling economic policy that promises better things for the majority, they may find their core constituencies too narrow to prevent the Republicans from enjoying an unexpected, albeit largely undeserved, resurgence.

This piece originally appeared at Forbes.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Illustration by Flickr user DonkeyHotey.

Los Angeles: Rail for Others

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 21:38

A few years ago, the satirical publication, The Onion ran an article under the headline "98 Percent of US Commuters Favor Public Transit for Others." The spoof cited a mythical press release by the American Public Transit Association (APTA), in which Lance Holland of Anaheim, California said "Expanding mass transit isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity," Holland said. "My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It's about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road." The Onion spoof said that APTA would be kicking off a new promotional campaign using the slogan "Take the Bus... I'll be Glad You Did." The Onion spoof singled out Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials as saying that public support for mass transit will lead to its expansion and improvement."

"Transit for Others" characterizes three decades of transit in Los Angeles County. Despite its massive $10 billion plus rail program, MTA bus and rail services carried fewer riders in 2012 (latest Federal Transit Administration data) than were carried by the buses in 1985 (MTA was formed in the early 1990s from a merger between the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District).

The Birth of Modern Rail

The history of the modern Los Angeles rail revival began with a special meeting of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission on August 20, 1980. I was to play a principal role.

I had the honor of being appointed to LACTC by Mayor Tom Bradley to three terms and was the only principal commissioner who was not an elected official. The other members, under state law, were the Mayor of Los Angeles, a Los Angeles City Council Member, the Mayor of Long Beach, two city council members from other cities, the five county supervisors and an additional member appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles (which was me).

The special meeting had been requested by legendary county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who proposed a 5-year reduction of the bus fare to $0.50 to be financed by a sales tax increase, which would be submitted to the voters at the November election. Any money not needed for the bus fare reduction would be used for unspecified transit  purposes.

The original motion by Supervisor Hahn was amended by Gardena Mayor Edmund Russ, who proposed a "local return program," which would dedicate 25 percent of the funding to municipalities (and Los Angeles County for unincorporated areas) on a population basis, to be used for transit services. At that time, local operators provided less than 20% of the bus service, with the overwhelming majority of services provided by the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD). 

I was concerned that the proposal by Supervisor Hahn failed to provide funding for a rail system. I believed at the time that a rail system would reduce the intractable traffic congestion in Los Angeles. I was also concerned at the rapidly rising unit costs of bus operations and was convinced that unless there was a "firewall," no money would be available for rail.

As a result, on the spur of the moment, I introduced an amendment to direct 35 percent of the proceeds to rail. This motion was seconded by Supervisor Baxter Ward and was incorporated into the final package Supervisor Hahn accepted a shortening of the reduced fare period to three years. The measure, Proposition A was placed on the ballot and was passed by the voters in November.

Transit Since Proposition A

The impacts of the three programs approved in 1980 had varying results on transit in Los Angeles.

Three Year Fare Reduction (1982-1985): Between 1982 and 1985, there was a flat $0.50 fare for transit services in the county. SCRTD experienced an increase from 354 million to 497 million annual passengers. At 40%, this may be the largest three year relative increase in any large transit agency's ridership in decades. Ridership fell after subsequent fare increases.

Further, the fare reduction was cost effective. The cost per new rider was less than $1.00 (2012$), a small fraction of typical projected costs per new riders on proposed rail transit systems around the country. By comparison, the cost per new rider on the east extension of the Gold light rail line was projected at more than $30 (2012$, $24.19 in 2003). This is more than 30 times the cost per new rider of the low fare program.

The strong ridership increase in response to the low fare program is consistent with the relatively low incomes of Los Angeles transit commuters. In 2013, the median income of Los Angeles County transit commuters was approximately one-half that of the national, 60 percent below that of the six metropolitan areas with transit legacy cities (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and Washington) and even lower than the other 45 metropolitan areas over 1,000,000 population (Figure 1)

Local Return Program: Since 1985, when the bus fare reduction program ended, by far the greatest impact on ridership was from the Local Return program. In 1985, the existing local bus operators carried approximately 55 million annual passengers, a figure that rose to more than 130 million in 2012 (a nearly 140 percent increase). This ridership increase is more passengers that were carried on all the bus and rail systems of Dallas (DART), Salt Lake City and St. Louis in 2012, according to Federal Transit Administration data.

Urban Rail Program: Many miles of urban rail have been built in Los Angeles County, including two subways and five light rail lines (determined by route termini from downtown). But the hope that others would leave their cars for transit, as expressed in The Onion has not occurred. By 2012, Federal Transit Administration data indicates that MTA (formed by a merger of LACTC and the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which operated the system before) bus and rail system was carrying 475 million annual riders, down from the 497 million carried on buses alone in 1985.

This is despite constructing billions  in subway lines, light rail lines, and rapid busways and the addition of approximately 2 million residents to Los Angeles County.

The "Return" on Local Return: The big surprise was the "return" on the local return program. A number of new systems were established, such as Foothill Transit and the Antelope Valley Transportation Authority. Many cities established new bus and paratransit systems. The city of Los Angeles now operates a number of commuter express bus services and local circulation bus services throughout the city. Many of the new systems used competitive tendering, under which services are awarded to competing private companies, with fares, routes, and schedules dictated by the public agencies. One important advantage of competitive tendering is lower costs, which makes it possible to provide more service. This service approach has been used extensively in Denver and San Diego. Further, virtually all of London's largest public bus system in the high income world is competitively tendered as are  all of the bus, subway, commuter rail and light rail services in Stockholm.

Overall, the Los Angeles County transit system, including MTA and the local operators experienced a ridership increase of 55 million between 1985 and 2012 (This excludes Metrolink, the five county commuter rail system established in the 1990s). Virtually all of the ridership increase is attributable to the local bus services operated by cities and by new sub-regional agencies (Figure 2).

Overall Transit Work Trip Share

Census Bureau data indicates that the employment access share of transit in Los Angeles County has declined modestly, from 7.0 percent in 1980 to 6.9 percent in 2013 (including Metrolink). Driving alone increased from 68.7 percent to 72.7 percent, while car pool commuting dropped from 16.8 percent to 10.0 percent. Outside of driving alone, the largest increase occurred in working at home rising from 1.5 percent to 5.2 percent (Figure 3). Unlike transit, working at home requires virtually no expenditures of public funds. Transit one-way work trips increased 77,000 daily, while driving along increased 947,000 and working at home increased 182,000. Car pools suffered a large loss (Figure 4).     

Thus, despite rave reviews about its rail system, Los Angeles relies on cars to an even greater extent than before. Los Angeles qualifies as the next great transit city only if the standard is spending and construction, rather than ridership.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.


Note: Part of the MTA/SCRTD ridership loss was due to the transfer of services to Foothill Transit and the city of Los Angeles in the late 1980s.

Photo: Los Angeles County Transportation Commission logo from 1980s

Choosing Fortune Over Freedom

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 21:38

“If the 19th [century] was the century of the individual (liberalism means individualism), you may consider that this is the ‘collective’ century, and, therefore, the century of the state.”

Benito Mussolini, “The Doctrine of Fascism” (1932), translated by Barbara Moroncini.

Where goes the 21st century? Until recently, it could be said that, with the defeat of fascism, in 1945, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union about a half century later, that we had seen the demise of what the Italian dictator Mussolini envisioned as “a century of authority.” But, now, liberalism’s global triumphal march, as was so brazenly predicted in some corners just two decades ago, seems to have slowed, and may even be going into reverse.

Increasingly, authoritarian regimes are rising around the world, led by a pesky, resource-rich Russia and a new full-blown superpower, China. Today, few regimes are becoming more democratic, and many, such as Turkey, are evolving toward one-party, voter-blessed, autocracies. These regimes, like their fascist and communist antecedents, often show a kind of contempt for the messy work of pluralistic decision-making and constitutional restraint.

Elections, long iconic for Americans, are increasingly beside the point. The regimes in Russia and Iran, like that of Turkey, can claim voter mandates, even if their electoral process is twisted by government control of the media and occasional outright repression. Adolf Hitler liked to boast that he, too, took power in Germany in 1933 through legal means.

But, China, the most important authoritarian country, has little pretense of free elections, so it has become inconceivable that anyone other than the Communist Party will be in control for the foreseeable future. For Chinese whose concerns extend beyond material benefit to such concepts as secure property rights, artistic, political or religious freedom, the obvious option is not to agitate but migrate to one of a diminishing number of spots where such rights are guaranteed.

But most people in China, like their counterparts elsewhere, are more concerned with their well-being than the freedom of a handful of writers, artists or even businesspeople. Having witnessed a remarkable shift from poverty to growing prosperity and power, the Chinese model, rather than seen as anachronistic, has evolved into the gold standard for many countries, particularly in the developing world.

This is not surprising, given the rapid progress that country has made in recent years. China has expanded its share of global gross domestic product from 2 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2012. Its economic model – communist control of thought and politics but welcoming to most enterprise – has vastly outperformed that of the strongest democracies, the United States, the European Union and Japan, particularly in light of the Great Recession. This recalls the 1930s, where Germany’s state-directed economy and that of the Soviet Union seemed to cope far better with the Depression than their Western democratic counterparts.

As in the 1930s, we are even seeing the emergence of a new authoritarian Axis. We can see this with Turkey’s decision to increase food exports to Russia to make up for sanction-tightened imports from the U.S. and the EU. Argentina, an increasingly authoritarian democracy, is also set to increase food exports to Moscow.

Right now, the new Axis is changing global politics. Vladimir Putin’s break with the West reflects, in part, his confidence that his nation’s future lies more with the Middle Kingdom than with the whining democracies of the EU. For less-developed countries, it is more compelling to see in the Chinese model the quickest way to achieve a strong economy.

Even in democratic and pluralistic India, the new government has sought stronger ties to China, under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a strongly authoritarian bent, which previously worked well in his management of Gujarat state.

Chinese success has made it painfully clear that globalization of capitalism does not require pluralism or Western standards of legality. Nor has it done much to promote global understanding, in the China Sea or elsewhere in the world. Religious and ethnic divisions are, if anything, ever more pronounced. The failure of the much-heralded Arab Spring to create anything remotely pluralistic epitomizes this trend, leaving the West with the dilemma of selecting which repressive regimes to ally with to defeat even more heinous entities, like Hamas or the Islamic State.

This rise of authoritarianism is not limited to the developing world. In the West, these tendencies are also getting stronger, and from both right and left. One powerful spur has been the growing sense among a once-comfortable middle class – beset by 15 years of flat or shrinking incomes – that they are being “proletarianized.”

Such fear leads normally conservative or moderate people to look at more extreme solutions. Historian Eric Weitz notes that such fears abetted the rise of the National Socialist movement in Germany. Today, across Europe, nativist parties, albeit still far less terrifying than the Nazis, are on the upswing, from traditionally liberal and prosperous Scandinavia to increasingly impoverished Greece.

Ukraine, facing dismemberment by Putin’s Russia, also has seen the rise internally of the neofascist and anti-Semitic Svoboda movement. The most notable example can be found in France, where the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is leading in the polls to become the Fifth Republic’s next president.

Perhaps the first neoauthoritarian to gain power in Europe, Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, has suggested that the recession of the past decade marked the end of what he called “the era of liberal democracies.” For Hungary, he claims, inspiration in the future won’t come from America or the rest of the EU, but from such authoritarian countries as China, Russia, Turkey and Singapore.

Far less discussed has been the rising authoritarianism on the Left. President Obama’s excessive use of federal regulations to circumvent troublesome Republicans in Congress demonstrates a new surge of executive and bureaucratic power. After the November election, there is good reason to suspect that, particularly if his party loses the Senate, the president’s approach in his final two years in office will increasingly resemble Louis XIV’s L’etat c’est moi.

If the Right’s authoritarian priorities, including those of some elements aligned with the Tea Party, seek to protect traditional culture, values and the middle classes, the Left favors centralized control to redress wrongs done to selected groups – women, gays, undocumented immigrants – through regulation and taxation. Environmental activists, notably those mobilized around climate change, increasingly despair of addressing their concerns through legislative action, where support is often limited, relying mostly on executive action.

When liberals abandon liberal principles, we lose one of the most important brakes on expanding central power. As we can see already in California and other places, decisions on virtually everything about how we live – from transportation, to housing and, most particularly, how we generate energy – are increasingly being made not by our elected representatives but through the administrative bureaucracy. The notion of “checks and balances,” of getting buy-in from the opposition and dissenters in your own party, means little to those who have found the “truth” and are determined to impose it on everyone else.

In some ways, Mussolini, executed by his fellow Italians in 1945, may have been more prescient than his enduring image as a posturing buffoon might suggest. In 1934, Mussolini noted that “as civilization becomes more and more complex, individual freedom is more and more restricted.”This was clearly true in the industrial era, but may also characterize our current transition to a post-industrial, information economy.

This view diverges from the popular wisdom that information technology is inherently liberating. The visionary MIT analyst Nicholas Negroponte maintained that “digital technology” could turn into “a natural force drawing people into greater world harmony.”

It turns out that technology is not liberating by itself and can be corralled just as easily for authoritarian purposes. The media’s emphasis on young people posting on Facebook in places like Egypt, Iran and Russia gave us a false impression of how those societies operate. Governmental suppression and organized violence subsequently proved more powerful than digital technology. Smartphones, the Internet and the increasing reach of information technology are not sufficient to spawn conditions for pluralistic democracy. As anyone who spends time in China can attest, great things can be achieved without fundamental individual freedom.

The sad truth is that we may be entering an era where classical liberalism – market capitalism, freedom of speech and safety from government intrusion – may be somewhat in retreat. As during most of world history, pluralistic democracy remains a fragile achievement that thrives only in a relative handful of places. For that reason, we need – more than ever – to cherish it.

This piece originally appeared at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Benito Mussolini photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-08300 / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons

Trustafarians Want to Tell You How to Live

Sun, 11/02/2014 - 22:40

Americans have always prided themselves on being a nation of the self-made, where class and the accident of birth did not determine success. Yet increasingly we are changing into a society where lineage does matter—and likely this process has just started, threatening not only our future prosperity but the very nature of our society.

In some ways the emerging age of inheritance stems from the success Americans enjoyed over the past half century. Think not only of the wealthy entrepreneurs, but the vast middle class that purchased their homes, often for what in hindsight look like very low sums, and which now can be sold at massively higher prices. In part this reflects the reality that previous generations simply had an easier time accumulating real estate and other assets at low prices. As a friend once told me, “A chimpanzee could have made money in L.A. real estate—and many did.”

The oldsters have also have benefited more from the asset-led economic recovery, according to a St. Louis Federal Reserve study, in part because they tended to buy their homes earlier and tend to have larger stock holdings. By 2017, according to Nielsen (PDF), Americans over 50 will control some 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income.

And the boomers—at least those in the more affluent classes—are about to get yet another windfall. As the members of World War II’s “Greatest Generation” die off, they are set to pass on between $8.4 trillion and $11.6 trillion to their Baby Boomer descendants, according to a study by MetLife.

In the coming decades this tsunami of inherited money will likely accelerate class divisions, as those in the current top decile (in terms of income) gather in more than a million in parental bequests, while those in the lower class will at best count their inheritances in the thousands. Among boomers who will receive an inheritance, the top 10 percent will receive more than every other decile combined.

This is just the beginning of the process. The well-born members of the millennial generation are set for an even greater inheritance, which will distort the economy even more. The Social Welfare Research Institute at Boston College estimatedthat a minimum of $41 trillion would pass between generations from 1998 to 2052. This huge transfer, the researchers believe, will usher in what they call “a golden age of philanthropy.” Even as most younger Americans struggle to obtain decent jobs and secure property, the Welfare Institute concluded, America is moving toward an “inheritance-based economy” where access to the last generation’s wealth could prove a critical determinant of both influence and power.

These trends will affect everything from geography to culture and politics. For one thing, we are likely to see people settling in areas depending on their class status. For example, an examination of income data by Mark Schill of the Praxis Strategy Group finds that, with the exception of retirement communities, the areas with the greatest dependence on rents, dividends, and interest are concentrated in the expensive “luxury cities” New York, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area (and their surrounding pricey suburbs).

With some areas, the differences are stark in terms of where this windfall lands. Manhattan, for example, was among the leaders of the nation’s core cities in asset-based wealth while the Bronx, just across the Harlem River, ranked at the absolute bottom. This inherited wealth is increasingly diffused among multiple cities as the expanding ranks of the ultra-rich purchase apartments in favored locations.

In contrast, it’s still hard to find concentrations of inherited wealth in historically poorer regions such as the South, even in booming growth regions such as Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Atlanta. These are places that you don’t have to use family money—or parental co-signers—to afford a decent home, as is often the case in places like San Francisco, Manhattan, or Brownstone Brooklyn—all places where, as the Financial Times’ Simon Kuper has noted, you no longer go to be someone; you only live there once you are already successful or living on inherited largess. They are, as Kuper puts it, “the vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself.”

In the coming decades, these trends could grow, particularly as economic and population growth slow. Of course, there have always been rich people, and wealthy enclaves, but the impact of inherited wealth on politics and culture—like that on real estate—may be more profound in the future. One key difference is education, which increasingly determines social status and wealth.

Historically, education was one way the middle and working classes, and even the poor, ascended the class ladder. But we may be seeing the end of this trend, given what some see as the “death of meritocracy,” particularly if you also count the enormous advantage in education that comes from going to an elite private school or a well-placed suburban public school. Over the past two generations, notes former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the gap in educational achievement between the children of the rich and the children of the poor has doubled. While the college enrollment rate for children from the lowest quarter of income distribution has increased from 6 percent to 8 percent, the enrollment rate for children from the highest quarter has risen from 40 percent to 73 percent.

So we have a graduate of Choate or Beverly Hills High who attends Wharton, and goes to work for, say, Goldman Sachs. And yes, this individual may work hard. But whether he or she works hard or not, the chances of success are much greater than those of an equally talented, equally diligent person who has to pay off college loans and whose choices about where to live—outside of places like New York or San Francisco—are driven as much by cost as they are by opportunity.

This represents a sea change from the past, where the inheritors earned their “gentlemen’s Cs” while the aspiring class busted for As. After all, who needs good grades to simply engage in traditional charity work—like feeding the poor or supporting their churches? But now many of the rich feel compelled to “make a difference.” No longer satisfied to suck gin and tonics at the country club, they want to find fulfillment, and impress their friends with their cleverness and social worth.

One place we can see this is in the cultural sphere. Hollywood, in particular, has always had a weakness for helping its own. Dorothy Parker once noted that “the only ‘ism’ Hollywood cares about is plagiarism.” But increasingly there is another “ism”—nepotism. And the trend can be seen across the the entertainment industry in such families as the Paltrows, Fondas, Douglases, and Smiths. You can see the wheels turning when someone like Jay Z puts his newborn baby’s cries—no doubt a budding rapper—on his songs.

But some of the most obvious places where dynastic power can be seen are on the executive side of the business. In the early years, the big powers were often rough, self-made men such as Jack Warner or Louis B. Mayer. People like David Geffen who worked their way up from the mailroom are increasingly rare. Today the hottest new producers tend to come from the richest classes, such as William Pohlad, son and heir of a Minnesota billionaire; Gigi Pritzker, an heir to the Pritzker fortune; and Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle Founder Larry Ellison, one of the world’s 10 richest men.

At the same time, the media itself, particularly in its most visible manifestations, is increasingly populated by the children of prominent politicians and by those who come from the ranks of the plutocracy. Middle-class parents may have to grind their teeth and empty their wallets as their kids work in unpaid internships in pricey Gotham, but this is not the fate of the offspring of the Reagans, Bushes, Clintons, McCains, Pelosis, or Kennedys, all of whom have ascended to levels of media power that mere mortals take years to achieve, if ever. If you need a show for millennials, why not hand it over to Ronan Farrow, the offspring of celebrity parents. In my time, generally speaking, the icons of a generation were likely to be outsiders; the “screwed generation” of millennials get to have theirs defined by whose birthright landed them on third base.

But perhaps the biggest long-term impact may come from the nonprofit institutions that the wealthy fund. Nonprofit foundations have been growing rapidly in size and influence since the late ’20s, paralleling the expansion of other parts of the clerisy like the universities and government. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent to more than 1.5 million. Their total employment has also soared: By 2010, 10.7 million people were employed by nonprofits—more than the number of people working in the construction and finance sectors combined—and the category has expanded far more rapidly than the rest of the economy, adding two million jobs since 2002. By 2010, nonprofits accounted for an economy of roughly $780 billion and paid upwards of 9 percent of wages and 10 percent of jobs in the overall economy.

Nonprofits, due to their accumulated wealth, are able to thrive even in tough times, adding jobs even in the worst years of the Great Recession.

In the past these organizations might have tended to be conservative, as inherited wealth followed the old notions of noblesse oblige and supported traditional aid to the poor, such as scholarships and food banks. But the new rich, particularly the young, tend to be more progressive, or at least gentry liberal. The direction of this rapidly expanding part of the clerisy will be increasingly important in the future, and already many of the largest foundations—Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and MacArthur—veer far toward a left social-action agenda.This is particularly ironic since their founders were conservative, or even reactionary, and generally held strong, sometimes fundamentalist, religious beliefs.

Much of this shift reflects the social phenomena of inheritors in general. Not involved with making their fortunes, and sometimes even embarrassed by how those fortunes were made, the new generation of “trust-fund progressives” often adopt viewpoints at odds with those of their ancestors. One particularly amusing, and revealing, development has been the recent announcement by the Rockefeller heirs that they would divest themselves of the very fossil fuels that built their vast fortune.

Of course, there remain many conservative foundations, such as those funded by the Koch brothers, who wield their fortunes for highly conservative causes. But roughly 75 percent of the political contributions of nonprofits tend to go in a left, green, or progressive direction.

This trend is likely to accelerate, as millennials—who will inherit the most money and may be the most inheritance-dominated generation in recent American history—enter adulthood. Schooled in political correctness, and not needing to engage in the mundane work of business, this large cadre of heirs to great fortunes will almost surely seek to shape what we think, how we live, and how we vote. They may consider themselves progressives, but they may more likely help shape a future that looks ever less like the egalitarian American of our imaginings, and ever more like a less elegant version of Downton Abbey.

This piece originally appeared at The Daily Beast.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Photo: Trustafarian Handbook by Brian Griffin.

Aging America: The U.S. Cities Going Gray The Fastest

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 09:12

For years we have been warned about the looming, profound impacts that the aging of the U.S. population will have on the country. Well, the gray wave has arrived. Since 2000, the senior population has increased 29% compared to overall population growth of 12%. The percentage of Americans in the senior set has risen from 12.4% to 14.1%, and their share of the population is projected to climb to 19.3% by 2030. There are two principal causes for this: the baby boom generation is reaching 65 years old, while the U.S. fertility rate has fallen markedly in recent decades, despite immigration, and now hovers around the replacement rate.

To find the cities that are going gray the fastest, we looked at the change from 2000 through 2013 in the share of seniors in the populations of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, the 52 metropolitan statistical areas that have more than a million residents. Some 13.2% of the residents of these 52 MSAs are seniors, a lower proportion than nationwide.

Before we look at where the biggest changes have occurred, let’s take a look at where the highest overall concentrations of seniors are: no big surprise, in Florida, and in the slow-growing Northeast and Midwest. Among the 52 biggest metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg has the highest share of seniors in its population at 18.2%. The retirement mecca of Miami, where 16.7% of its population is over 65, ranks third in the nation, and Jacksonville is 18th, at 13.7%.

Outside of Florida almost all the retirement capitals are in the Northeast and Midwest. The second most senior region, for example, is Pittsburgh, where 18.0% of the population is over 65. The old Steel City is followed by a host of Rust Belt metro areas: Cleveland, Rochester, Providence, Hartford, St. Louis and Detroit, all of which have a senior set that makes up 14% or more of the overall population.

Austin, Texas, has the smallest proportion of seniors, at 9.2%, but its senior share is rising — more on Austin later on. Salt Lake City, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are also below 10%, while Raleigh has the fifth-lowest proportion of seniors, at 10.2%. Not surprisingly, all of these relatively young cities are experiencing strong domestic in-migration.

Cities That Are Aging The Most

The metropolitan areas that have seen the biggest jumps in the senior proportion of their populations, have, for the most part, been the same ones that have drawn strong net domestic in-migration of millennials, families and working adults. The rise in the share of seniors in these cities isn’t because seniors are moving to them in overwhelming numbers — Census data shows they make major moves less than all other age groups. (In 2011-12, seniors moved to another state five times less frequently than those between the ages of 25-34, according to Current Population Survey figures.) Rather, many of those who have reached 65 since 2000 in the cities that top our list moved to them when they were younger, generally in search of economic opportunities or better lives, and have aged there.

However, when seniors do decide to move, they can have a disproportionate impact on metropolitan economies because of their relative affluence. Over-65 households have a net worth 2.5 times the national average, according to Census Bureau data. Seniors (over 62) were far less damaged in the housing bust than younger households, and their incomes increased more with the tepid economic recovery, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve studies.

In first place on our list is Atlanta, where the share of seniors in the population rose from 7.7% in 2000 to 10.4% in 2013, the biggest increase in the nation. In raw numbers, the over-65 population of the metro area rose to 572,534, an increase of  73.5% since 2000.

The percentage of the population in fast-growing Raleigh, N.C., that is over 65 grew from 8.0% to 10.2% in 2013, putting it in second place.

Austin may have a reputation as a youthful place, but it’s also getting older rapidly. The senior population has surged 91.7% since 2000 to 172,476, amid a general population boom – the share of seniors in the metro area has expanded from 7.2% to 9.2%, placing it third on our list. The metro area may be unprepared for a mounting “silver tsunami” of impoverished elderly, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Two of the cities that posted the biggest increases in the share of seniors in their populations also were among the largest overall domestic migration losers, San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles. Since 2000, 1.7 million more U.S. residents moved away from the two metro areas than to them. Only Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans lost a larger share of its total population to domestic out-migration than San Jose, which ranks 4th in the increase of its senior population, going from 9.4% to 11.9%. Los Angeles, which trailed only New Orleans, San Jose and New York in the percentage of its population that it lost to domestic migration, went from 9.8% over-65 to 12.1%, the ninth biggest increase among the 52 largest metro areas. The combination of older households moving less and younger households leaving to take advantage of better job opportunities elsewhere may explain this.

The balance of the top 10 all experienced net domestic migration gains since 2000.

Meanwhile, the Rust Belt and Florida cities that already were among the oldest didn’t get much older. Tampa-St. Petersburg actually got younger, at least in part due to strong overall in-migration by younger people.

Are Seniors Headed To Big Cities?

One favorite meme of urban boosters is the assertion that seniors are heading to the inner city. The preponderance of evidence shows the opposite. Within the 52 largest metropolitan areas, the urban cores, measured at the small area level (zip codes) have lost seniors to the periphery. Between 2000 and 2010, the urban core senior population declined by  1.5 million, dropping from nearly 15% of the total population to 13%.The losses were pervasive, extending to all the 52 biggest MSAs except for San Diego (and there the urban core gain was miniscule, with 97% of the senior growth occurring in the suburbs and exurbs).

In contrast, suburbs and exurbs together gained over 2.82 million seniors. But the largest increases were farthest from core, in the newer, outer suburbs and exurbs. Together these areas gained 2.4 million seniors. Rather than headed into the core, the prevailing trend has been quite the opposite.

A similar pattern has been identified in Canada. A recent study of that country’s six largest cities found similar patterns, with older Canadians, if they move, tending to end up the suburban rings.

Just The Beginning

Over the next 15 years, cities are likely to age even faster. Those cities that attract the most among relatively few senior domestic migrants and which have seen their over-50 cohorts swelled by previous domestic migration should see the largest increases. At the same time, other cities with modest senior population gains could also age more quickly if more of the rest of the population moves away.

Seniors in America's Largest Metropolitan Areas, 2000-2013 Ranked by change in share of seniors, 2000-2013 Rank MMSA Seniors Share 2000 Seniors Share 2013 Seniors Share Change 2000-13% Number of Seniors 2013 Change in Total Seniors 2000-13% 1 Atlanta, GA 7.7% 10.4% 34.0% 572,534 73.5% 2 Raleigh, NC 8.0% 10.2% 28.6% 124,285 96.0% 3 Austin, TX 7.2% 9.2% 27.2% 172,476 91.7% 4 San Jose, CA 9.4% 11.9% 26.7% 229,062 40.1% 5 Denver, CO 9.0% 11.3% 25.7% 304,698 57.1% 6 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 7.9% 9.9% 25.6% 676,537 64.4% 7 Jacksonville, FL 11.0% 13.7% 24.2% 191,000 54.2% 8 Houston, TX 7.7% 9.5% 24.0% 601,800 66.9% 9 Los Angeles, CA 9.8% 12.1% 23.7% 1,584,236 31.4% 10 Portland, OR-WA 10.4% 12.8% 23.5% 296,365 48.3% 11 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 9.7% 11.9% 23.1% 412,713 40.4% 12 Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV 9.0% 11.0% 23.0% 656,678 51.3% 13 Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC 10.3% 12.7% 22.7% 215,992 32.6% 14 Grand Rapids, MI 10.5% 12.7% 20.5% 128,805 31.6% 15 Las Vegas, NV 10.7% 12.8% 20.4% 260,156 77.5% 16 Rochester, NY 12.9% 15.5% 20.0% 167,497 22.3% 17 Detroit, MI 12.0% 14.3% 19.7% 616,033 15.5% 18 Sacramento, CA 11.3% 13.5% 19.1% 298,327 46.8% 19 Seattle, WA 10.1% 11.9% 17.9% 431,378 39.8% 20 Richmond, VA 11.4% 13.3% 17.1% 166,173 38.2% 21 San Francisco-Oakland, CA 11.7% 13.7% 16.8% 617,996 27.9% 22 New Orleans. LA 11.4% 13.2% 16.4% 164,372 8.0% 23 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 10.0% 11.7% 16.3% 156,792 28.7% 24 Salt Lake City, UT 8.0% 9.3% 15.6% 105,993 40.3% 25 Columbus, OH 10.1% 11.7% 15.5% 230,044 35.6% 26 Charlotte, NC-SC 10.5% 12.0% 15.2% 281,202 56.7% 27 Phoenix, AZ 11.9% 13.7% 15.1% 604,442 55.8% 28 Nashville, TN 10.3% 11.8% 14.9% 208,133 46.3% 29 Chicago, IL-IN-WI 10.9% 12.4% 14.3% 1,184,871 19.8% 30 Baltimore, MD 12.0% 13.7% 14.1% 379,722 23.8% 31 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 11.7% 13.3% 13.4% 283,518 21.5% 32 Kansas City, MO-KS 11.5% 13.0% 12.8% 266,749 27.9% 33 Louisville, KY-IN 12.4% 14.0% 12.4% 176,229 26.6% 34 Cleveland, OH 14.5% 16.2% 11.8% 335,054 7.5% 35 Boston, MA-NH 12.6% 14.1% 11.6% 658,710 19.0% 36 St. Louis,, MO-IL 13.0% 14.4% 11.1% 404,297 16.3% 37 San Diego, CA 11.1% 12.3% 10.8% 396,543 26.4% 38 Hartford, CT 13.9% 15.4% 10.5% 187,183 16.9% 39 New York, NY-NJ-PA 12.6% 13.9% 10.4% 2,768,694 16.3% 40 Birmingham, AL 12.8% 14.1% 10.1% 160,686 19.3% 41 San Antonio, TX 10.8% 11.9% 10.1% 270,480 46.5% 42 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 10.5% 11.5% 9.8% 502,846 47.8% 43 Oklahoma City, OK 11.4% 12.5% 9.7% 164,481 32.2% 44 Indianapolis. IN 11.0% 12.0% 9.5% 234,973 29.0% 45 Orlando, FL 12.4% 13.4% 8.5% 304,660 49.7% 46 Milwaukee,WI 12.6% 13.5% 7.4% 211,527 12.3% 47 Providence, RI-MA 14.4% 15.4% 7.0% 247,689 8.4% 48 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD 13.4% 14.2% 6.5% 858,313 13.0% 49 Buffalo, NY 15.9% 16.5% 3.7% 186,693 0.5% 50 Miami, FL 16.4% 16.7% 1.8% 975,529 18.5% 51 Pittsburgh, PA 17.7% 18.0% 1.6% 425,102 -1.3% 52 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL 19.2% 18.4% -4.3% 527,861 14.6% 52 Major Metropolitan Areas 11.4% 12.9% 13.2% 22,588,129 29.2% Outside MMSAs 13.6% 15.7% 14.8% 22,115,945 26.4% United States 12.4% 14.1% 13.8% 44,704,074 27.8%

This piece first appeared at the Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. His most recent study, The Rise of Postfamilialism, has been widely discussed and distributed internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

"Senior Citizens Crossing" photo by Flickr user auntjojo.

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