[Source: Betty Beard, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix area saw more “job sprawl” — that is more jobs opening up in its suburbs — than any other U.S. metro area over the past decade, says a new report released today from the Brookings Institution. The percentage of jobs located more than 10 miles from downtown Phoenix grew by 8.5 percent between 1998 and 2006. That was a higher percentage of migrating jobs than seen in any of the other 97 metro areas studied. At the same time, the percentage of Valley-wide jobs within 3 miles of downtown Phoenix fell by 7 percent.
Although the migration is good for suburban residents and for the coffers of outlying cities, the Brookings Institution says job sprawl has some disadvantages. “It can boost energy consumption, add to the costs of building infrastructure for businesses that locate far from the urban core, increase commuting times, reduce innovation by lessening opportunities for firms to interact and exchange ideas, and isolate low-income and minority workers in the urban core from employment opportunities in outlying areas,” the report said.
In 95 of the 98 metro areas studied, jobs migrated out. Today, only 21 percent of employees work within 3 miles of urban cores, and 45 percent work more than 10 miles away. But Phoenix was relatively centralized compared with most, because 25.8 percent of all jobs were within 3 miles of downtown Phoenix. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
The Brookings Institution’s “Blueprint for American Prosperity” is a multi-year initiative to promote an economic agenda for the nation that builds on the assets and centrality of American’s metropolitan areas. Grounded in empirical research and analysis, the Blueprint offers an integrated policy agenda and specific federal reforms designed to give metropolitan areas the tools they need to generate economically productive growth, to build a strong and diverse middle class, and to grow in environmentally sustainable ways. To view the Blueprint’s profile on Arizona, click here.
[Source: Froma Harrop, Houston Chronicle and reprinted in the Arizona Republic] — There’s a burning concern in the American West — almost an obsession — that Democrats did not touch in their convention here. Nor will Republicans in St. Paul. It is the U.S. population explosion. The West is feeling the brunt of it, as flowing lava of housing developments and big-box crudscapes claim its cherished open spaces — and increasingly scarce water supplies. The U.S. Census Bureau now expects America’s population to top 400 million by 2039, far earlier than previously forecast. The 300-million mark was hit only two years ago, so if this prediction is correct, the headcount will have soared by 100 million people in 33 short years.
America’s fastest-growing region has been and will continue to be the Intermountain West. Its megalopolises — centered on Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City — are set to add 13 million people by 2040, according to a Brookings Institution study. This would be a doubling of their population. Hyper-growth still brings out happy talk in some circles. The Brookings report looks at the population forecasts for the urban corridor on the eastern face of the Rockies, spreading from Colorado into Wyoming, and enthuses, “Such projections point to a huge opportunity for the Front Range to improve on the current level of prosperity.” There are challenges, it says, but they can be met — and you can almost hear local hearts breaking — by new roads, bigger airports, more office parks.
And where oh where are they going to find water? Every county in Colorado was declared a federal drought disaster area in 2002, when the population stood at 4.5 million. It is expected to approach 8 million by 2035. As former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm notes, the region is so dry that you can still see the wagon wheel trails laid down in the 1840s. “This is an area that plans to add 13 million people?” Lamm said to me. “Crazy.” [Note: To read the full opinion piece, click here.]
[Source: Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Do poor people live in or near your neighborhood? The answer could be yes, as working-poor families in the Valley are more spread out than in most other cities. And that’s generally good for them and for the economy, according to a report being released today. The study from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., shows the Valley is bucking a national trend in which poor working families increasingly cluster together. The study ranks the Phoenix metro area as having the fifth-lowest concentration of working-poor neighborhoods of 58 urban areas studied. The Valley also ranks second-best in the country for its percentage decline in poor-neighborhood concentrations over a recent six-year period.
The study focuses on the geographic concentration of poverty rather than the number of low-income families because people who live in disadvantaged geographic areas face a “double burden,” according to the report’s authors. They not only must try to make ends meet on low incomes but also usually live in areas characterized by few jobs, higher consumer prices, low housing values, more crime, worse community health standards, inferior schools, and so on.
Western cities generally scored well in terms of low concentrations of poverty-riddled neighborhoods – and in terms of the change of that concentration from 1999 to 2005. The Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., metro areas had the lowest concentrated poverty rates, followed by Trenton, N.J., and the Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale. Also, the Valley enjoyed the second-biggest decrease in high-poverty neighborhoods from 1999 to 2005, trailing only the Los Angeles metro area. The study relied on 2005 because that’s the most recent year for which poverty data were available. However, the Valley’s job market, housing market and economy have deteriorated since then — a trend also pronounced in Los Angeles and other Western cities that scored well in the report. “If you take it forward to 2008, things might not look quite as rosy for Phoenix and other Western cities,” said Alan Berube, a Brookings research director and report co-author. “Performance of the regional economy explains a lot.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times] — As outlying sagebrush was quickly devoured by starter homes and chain stores, Las Vegas began grappling with the kinds of problems that long have vexed California: Crowded classrooms. Packed freeways. Not enough water. Immigrants who struggle to learn English. Rising poverty. Similar issues have bedeviled the areas around Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque. By 2040, Las Vegas and its four brethren will grow by nearly 12.7 million people.
While a booming population is turning the Intermountain West into an economic force and political battleground, a Brookings Institution report released today suggests that without help from the federal government, its major cities are headed for trouble. “These places are going to be overwhelmed if they’re left to go it alone,” said Mark Muro, policy director of the nonpartisan think tank’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah — a region the study dubbed the “new American Heartland” — was the least developed part of the U.S. in 1950. There isn’t even an interstate linking Las Vegas and Phoenix because they were mere blips when the nation’s highway system was mapped out. But from 2000 to 2007, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah boasted the nation’s top three population growth rates; the Las Vegas area alone jumped 31%, to more than 2 million people. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]