NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cities Attracting People Once Again

March 19, 2001

In a startling reversal of the post-World War II flight to the suburbs, older cities are experiencing population renaissances. An analysis of Census 2000 data also reveals that those that aren't growing are experiencing the slowest population declines in 30 years.

The study even excluded recent boom cities in the Southwest such as Houston.

  • For the first time in 50 years, Chicago is growing and New York City -- with a record 8 million people -- is growing faster than its suburbs.
  • Indianapolis grew 8.3 percent in the 1990s, almost double its growth rate in the 1980s -- while Kansas City, Mo., chalked up its first gain since the 1960s, climbing in population by 1.5 percent.
  • While Cleveland is still losing people, it is doing so at the slowest rate since the 1950s.
  • Declining cities lost an average of 6.2 percent of their populations in the 1990s -- compared to losses of 10.4 percent on average during their worst decade.

Experts identify immigration as the principal factor in the turnaround. Other factors include the strong economy, dropping crime rates and attempts to improve public schools.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Cities Boom Once Again," USA Today, March 19, 2001.

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