Census Estimate Shows New Shift To Urban Core

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New census numbers show that the population of the country is increasing in the center of cities — and especially in cities in the West.

Vishaan Chakrabarti, urbanist, architect and author of " Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America," told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson the two main factors driving young people and retirees back to cities are economic and environmental.

However, Chakrabarti says the renaissance of cities also reveals major deficits in urban areas.

"The most important issue that we as a nation have at this point — in terms of the well-being of our population — is we have drastically under-invested in infrastructure, in urban school systems, and cities and mayors are scrambling to take up the slack that the federal government has left us for many decades now," Chakrabarti said. "They are trying to make sure there is more equity in our cities."

Chakrabarti adds that in addition to economic and environmental considerations, the diversity of cities are a real draw.

"Young people, as well as retirees, want to be near culture, and real culture demands diversity," Chakrabarti said. "Whether people are gay or straight, or whether people come from different international backgrounds, that's where most people want to live."

Highlights from the Census Bureau's population estimates

  • The nation's metro areas contained 269.9 million people in 2013, up about 2.3 million from 2012.
  • Houston had the largest numeric increase in population between 2012 and 2013, gaining about 138,000 people.
  • Of the nation's 10 fastest-growing metropolitan statistical areas in the year ending July 1, 2013, six were within or near the Great Plains, including Odessa, Texas; Midland, Texas; Fargo, N.D.-Minn.; Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Austin-Round Rock, Texas.
  • New York continued to be the most populous metro area, with 19.9 million residents on July 1, 2013, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago.
  • Harris County, Texas (Houston) again had the largest numeric population increase between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, adding almost 83,000 people. Following Harris were Maricopa County, Ariz. (Phoenix), which added 69,000; Los Angeles County, Calif. (65,000); King County, Wash. (Seattle), which added 37,000; and San Diego County, Calif. (35,000).
  • Los Angeles County, Calif., had the largest number of net international migrants between 2012 and 2013, at 39,000. It was followed by Miami-Dade County, Fla., with a net of 32,000 international migrants, and Queens County, N.Y., with a net of 24,000 international migrants.


  • Vishaan Chakrabarti, author of “A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.” He’s also director of CURE., the Center for Urban Real Estate, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. He tweets @VishaanNYC.

This segment aired on March 27, 2014.


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