[Source: Froma Harrop, Providence Journal] — Sunbelt-and-sprawl advocate Joel Kotkin wrote two years ago that the future of American urbanism wasn’t in the “elite cities,” such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but in “younger, more affordable and less self-regarding places.” He named (his order) Houston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.
Boom-city boosters like Kotkin play a numbers game, where the place with the biggest population explosion wins. This is also a kind of Blue America-versus-Red America urbanology, which includes an element of liberal-bashing: Any place that refuses to be steamrolled by developers is called “elite.”
In the aftermath of the real-estate bust, areas overly dependent on building houses, selling houses and financing houses are in the worst shape. Economies need non-bubble jobs. Unemployment rates in the recent hyper-growth centers, Riverside and Las Vegas, are now well above those in the aforementioned “elite cities.” And Boston’s 9 percent unemployment is only a point above that of the more economically diverse Sunbelt powerhouses: Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix.
There’s little point in pitting cities, regions and states against one another. This is a big country. One can like San Francisco for some things and Las Vegas for others. By the way, what gave anyone the idea that Houston, Dallas and Phoenix are not “self-regarding”? They are, as well they should be. [Note: Read the full article at The urban future isn’t all about population booms.]
[Source: Adam Kress, Phoenix Business Journal] — A new read on the housing market shows Phoenix home values have dropped nearly 31% in the past 12 months — the steepest decline of any major city in the nation. Home prices across the country fell in August for the 25th consecutive month and prices in 10 major markets plunged a record 17.7% from August 2007, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price 10-city index. From July to August, prices dropped 1.1%. The 20-city index marked a record year-over-year decline of 16.6% with a 1% fall from July to August.
The hardest hit of all 20 cities on a year-over-year basis was Phoenix, where prices plummeted 30.7% during the past 12 months. Las Vegas prices plunged 30.6% and Miami sank 28.1%. The cities that held up the best were Dallas, which saw a decline of just 2.7%; Charlotte, N.C., down 2.8%; and Boston, off 4.7%. No city showed a price gain during over the last 12 months. From July to August, San Francisco saw the biggest price decline, down 3.5%. Phoenix prices fell 2.9% and Las Vegas homes lost 2.4% in value. Two cities showed gains in August. Cleveland prices rose 1.1% and Boston prices inched up 0.1%.
The S&P Case-Shiller indexes compare the sale prices of the same homes year-to-year and are considered one of the most accurate home price gauges.
[Source: Business Wire] — Atlanta bumped San Francisco out of first place as the No. 1 city on Forbes.com’s 8th annual ranking of America’s “Best Cities For Singles.” According to Forbes.com Executive Editor Michael Noer, “Atlanta got the top spot because of its hopping nightlife, relatively high number of singles, and sizzling job growth.”
The list ranks 40 of the largest urbanized areas in the U.S. in seven categories, including a city’s “cool factor,” cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife, and the number of singles.
- San Francisco
- Washington D.C.
- New York City
[Source: William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution] — Newly released U.S. Census Bureau population data for U.S. cities show a new twist on a well-known theme that could be good news for older cities hoping to reverse population declines of the past. The familiar part of the report indicates that most of the nation’s fastest growing cities are located in the South and interior West. Places like McKinney, TX; North Las Vegas, NV; and Cary, NC, are registering growth rates that cities in baseball’s “American League Central” division (e.g., Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City) can only dream about. But the new estimates also show a clear retrenchment of the old “Snowbelt to Sunbelt” population surge, a turnaround that has brought modest gains to many older and coastal cities that lost population earlier in the decade.
Population trends in the nation’s nine largest cities (those with over one million residents) offer a glimpse at the story (Table 1). Three of these — Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego — flipped from population declines to gains in the past year, while their more high-flying sunbelt counterparts — Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas — showed reduced levels of growth. The growth slowdowns in Houston and Phoenix were substantial, while at the same time, Chicago’s modest gain was the first registered since 2001. Another notable flip occurred in Boston, which last year became the fastest growing city in the Northeast, after losing population the year before. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]