Visualizing the migration flows in and out of DuPage County

The US Census recently released data on county-by-county migration flows. The tables that can be downloaded are huge but here is a look at the flows in and out of DuPage County:

DuPageCountyMigrationFlows

Looks like a lot of movement to (and some from) warmer locales – southern California, Arizona, Florida – and lots of movement in the Midwest in an area roughly bounded by St. Louis, Detroit, and Minneapolis. You can also look at the migrations by education or income level.

Very cool all around. There is a lot of data to crunch here and these visualizations help make sense of a lot of data. At the same time, these aren’t necessarily huge movements of people. Take Harris County, home to Houston (4th largest city in the United States): over this five year span, there was a +88 flow from Harris to DuPage County.

Reaction to Newsweek’s list of “dying cities”

Search for “dying city” and “Newsweek” and what you will see in the Google results is not the original article but rather reactions from some of the listed cities. Newspapers in South Bend, Rochester (NY), and Grand Rapids have voiced their displeasure.

This recent list from Newsweek is based on Census data and the cities that experienced the greatest population declines from 2000 to 2009:

We used the most recent data from the Census Bureau on every metropolitan area with a population exceeding 100,000 to find the 30 cities that suffered the steepest population decline between 2000 and 2009. Then, in an attempt to look ahead toward the future of these regions, we analyzed demographic changes to find which ones experienced the biggest drop in the number of residents under 18. In this way, we can see which cities may have an even greater population decline ahead due to a shrinking population of young people.

Here are the 10 cities that had the steepest drop in overall population as well as the largest decline in the number of residents under the age of 18.

Some thoughts about this data:

1. All of these cities, except two (one in FL, one in CA), are in the Rust Belt. Many of these cities are not surprises.

2. The local reactions seem to be expressions of civic pride. People in these cities can’t ignore the population loss but they are right in saying their cities are not going completely to waste. There are some good things going on in these places but broader population trends are working against them.

3. “Dying city” does not equal “dead city.” Dying doesn’t mean that everybody is leaving, just that these cities lead the country in percentage population loss. A real “dead city” would have no population left. These cities are from that point.

4. Perhaps what angers locals most is that articles like these can further negative stereotypes. These places already suffer from perception problems and lists like this do not help. For example, it is any surprise that Detroit continues to lose population after years of commentators saying how bad of shape Detroit is in? People probably leave places like Detroit for reasons more important than punditry (reasons like jobs, opportunities, etc.) but it could play some role.

More poor people now in suburbia

American suburbs are often imagined as homes to primarily the middle and upper classes. However, new figures from the US Census suggests the number of poor people living in suburbs continues to grow:

The analyses of census data released Thursday show that since 2000, the number of poor people in the suburbs jumped by 37.4 percent to 13.7 million. That’s faster than the national growth rate of 26.5 percent and more than double the city rate of 16.7 percent…

Cities still have higher poverty rates — about 19.5 percent, compared to 10.4 percent in the suburbs. But the gap has been steadily narrowing. In a reversal from 2000, the number of poor people living in the suburbs now exceeds those in cities by roughly 1.6 million.

Analysts attribute the shift largely to years of middle-class flight and substantial shares of minorities and immigrants leaving cities in the early part of the decade for affordable housing and job opportunities in the suburbs. After the housing bust, their fortunes changed, throwing millions of people out of work.

To recap: in terms of absolute numbers, there are more poor people living in suburbs than in large cities. As a proportion of the population, cities have higher percentages of poor people compared to suburbs. And the number of poor people in suburbs has grown more since 2000 than the number of poor people in cities.

On one hand, these figures should challenge the typical images of suburbia as a wealthy paradise. On the other hand, there have always been some poor and working-class people in suburbs – this is nothing new, suggesting the typical image has always been somewhat wrong.

What will be interesting to watch is how suburban municipalities respond to the growing number of poor people.