Urban vs. Suburban Growth in U.S. Metros

It's cities versus suburbs in these maps of population growth.

We already know big cities in the U.S. are growing, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Places like New Orleans, Austin, and Denver saw above-average population growth rates between April 2010 and July 2011.

To add a little context, Brookings Institution demographer William Frey dug through the data to break down this estimated growth in terms of cities and suburbs. According to his analysis of the 51 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people, the primary cities in those metros grew an average of 1.1 percent, compared with 0.9 percent growth in the suburban areas of those metros between July 2010 and July 2011*. Metros like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. saw their urban populations grow faster than their suburban populations, while metros like Baltimore, Detroit, and Jacksonville saw higher growth in their suburban areas than the central cities.

Metropolitan growth is both urban and suburban. These maps show by how much each metro's urban growth outpaced suburban growth (or negative growth, in Cleveland's case), or vice versa.

Higher Rate of Urban Growth

Metro Area City Growth Rate Suburb Growth Rate Difference
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 3.7% 0.6% 3.1%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 2.4% 1.3% 1.1%
Denver-Aurora, CO 2.4% 1.4% 1%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 2.4% 1.5% 0.9%
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 2.3% 1.4% 0.9%
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 1.1% 0.6% 0.5%
Raleigh-Cary, NC 2.5% 2.1% 0.4%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 1.5% 1.1% 0.4%
Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 1.8% 1.4% 0.4%
Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA 1.2% 0.9% 0.3%
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 0.7% 0.4% 0.3%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 1.9% 1.6% 0.3%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 0.5% 0.3% 0.2%
Oklahoma City, OK 1.7% 1.5% 0.2%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 0.7% 0.5% 0.2%
Columbus, OH 1.1% 0.9% 0.2%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 1.4% 1.3% 0.1%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 1.6% 1.5% 0.1%
Rochester, NY 0.1% 0% 0.1%
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 1.4% 1.3% 0.1%
Pittsburgh, PA 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 1.1% 1% 0.1%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 0.4% 0.3% 0.1%

 

Higher Rate of Suburban Growth

Metro Area City Growth Rate Suburb Growth Rate Difference
Baltimore-Towson, MD -0.2% 0.70% 0.9%
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI -0.6% 1.2% 0.6%
Jacksonville, FL 0.6% 1.2% 0.6%
Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 0.7% 1.3% 0.6%
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN -0.2% 0.3% 0.5%
St. Louis, MO-IL -0.3% 0.1% 0.4%
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH -0.6% -0.3% 0.3%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 1.8% 2.1% 0.3%
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 1.2% 1.5% 0.3%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 0.1% 0.3% 0.2%
Kansas City, MO-KS 0.5% 0.7% 0.2%
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 1.7% 1.9% 0.2%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 0.6% 0.8% 0.2%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 0.7% 0.8% 0.1%
Salt Lake City, UT 1.5% 1.6% 0.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 1% 1.1% 0.1%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 0.3% 0.4% 0.1%

Maps by Nate Berg

*An earlier version of this story neglected to note that the analysis of urban-suburban growth covered the time period between July 2010 and July 2011.

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.