Communities like ours, in the outer rings of metropolitan areas, are growing again. Last year saw the strongest evidence yet that Americans are returning to traditional patterns in where they move—from cities to suburbs and from North to South—after a recession-driven pause of nearly a decade.
Central counties of metropolitan areas grew 0.7 percent last year while outlying counties grew 1 percent, according to new Census Bureau population estimates. After two years of roughly comparable growth, this marked the first time since the recession that outer suburbs clearly outgrew central cities and inner suburbs. As recently as 2012, central counties grew 0.9 percent while outlying counties grew just 0.5 percent.
But we're losing population to Sun Belt cities that had seen migration from the North cut sharply since the housing-market collapse and recession of 2007-09. Las Vegas lost 5,000 more than it gained in 2011, but last year gained a net 28,000. Phoenix saw a gain of 4,000 in 2011 grow to 51,000 last year.