New Report Suggests Reversal In Decades-Long Trend of Decentralization

A new report by City Observatory, a think tank devoted to data-driven analysis of cities and the policies that shape them, shows that population and employment are growing in many city centers and declining in the suburbs, reversing a 50-year long decentralization trend.

"Over the past few years, urban populations in America’s cities have grown faster than outlying areas, and our research shows that jobs are coming with them" said City Observatory Joe Cortright.

The report, based on Census data, shows that annual jobs growth in city centers increased from 0.1 percent in the 2002-07 period, to 0.5 percent in recent years.  Meanwhile the periphery saw a steep decline in annual job growth: from 1.2 percent between 2002-2007, to -0.1 percent between 2007-2011.  "When it comes to job growth, city centers are out-performing the surrounding areas in 21 of the 41 metropolitan areas we examined."

"Our analysis shows that city centers had unusually strong job growth relative to peripheral locations in the wake of the Great Recession. Some of the impetus for central city growth comes from the relatively stronger performance of industries that tend to be more centralized, such as finance, entertainment, restaurants, and professional services.  The story is not just that job growth in central cities is improving when compared to outlying areas – city centers have also erased their competitive disadvantage relative to peripheral locations."

Read more: resources:
Increasing Urbanization (
Top 20 Cities (
The Social Structures of the Cities (
Frederique Laubepin

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