Census: More People Are Living In Urban Areas

More people are living in clusters rather than open spaces, with city life expanding in popularity in that hard-to-name decade that ended in 2010. U.S. Census data says 80.7 percent of Americans lived in urban zones in 2010, up nearly two percentage points from 2000. The rural population declined from 21 percent to 19.3 percent in the same span.

Reuters analyzes the data, which also shows population growth in urban areas (12.7 percent) outpaced general population increase (9.7 percent) in the decade. Some of the hottest spots for urban growth were Charlotte, Austin and Las Vegas, all of which upped their metro area populations by 43.5 percent or more.

The stats don’t necessarily mean that people are fleeing the suburbs and heading into city centers. Urban sprawl is claiming more territory, roping many formerly rural zones into metroplexes. More clustered people demand more infrastructure, putting the heat on strained government budgets.

More Americans move to cities in past decade-Census [Reuters]


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  1. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    Yet the Republican candidates continue to demonize urbanites as out-of-touch elitists.

    — From an Upper West Side of Manhattan dwelling lefty liberal atheist homo egghead.

  2. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It seems like the trend isn’t necessarily growth in what is considered traditional urban areas. It’s more of high density suburban development that offers none of the positive attributes of city or rural life.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    As soon as we create cheap and quick teleporter-style transportation, we’ll switch to spreading out as much as possible.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      I think someone once did the math on how much energy it would take to disassemble an average 150-pound human being’s entire atomic structure. It came out to something in the ballpark of “…a hundred times the heat of the surface of the sun triggered in less than a hundredth of a second.”

      Not to mention the issue of reassembling all that carbon dust when you’re done sending it somewhere, and whether or not the person would still be alive


      • Kate says:

        I always wondered why you couldn’t keep generating the same person or whatever over and over (not that star trek didn’t explore that).

  4. Cat says:

    Vegas is all urban. Even if they call it “Henderson”, it’s still Vegas. There is nothing outside the city. NOTHING. Just a bunch of concrete masquerading as dirt, and some Yucca plants.

    Nobody but fools and hermits would live outside of Vegas.

    (Exceptions: Mt. Charleston, and some native Americans forced to eek out a meager existence on the Moapa River Indian Reservation.)

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    We stopped just short of moving right into DC. We’re still in a more urban area but far enough away to avoid the more expensive housing of living right in DC’s boundaries. This is different than some of our friends and family, who live in the outer suburbs, do not have immediate access to metro rail, and probably don’t pay as much as we do and have more space – but they’re an hour from DC. We pay more for less space, but it’s worth not having to deal with the commute. Plus, we don’t really care for a more rural life anyway.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve found that boundaries rarely matter in DC. Arlington real estate prices are quite comparable to a lot of DC neighborhoods. It’s mostly about marble countertops, metro proximity, things of that nature.

    • Lisse24 says:

      I live in Alexandria, and have friends in Leesburg, so I priced the apartments out there just for kicks, yannow? Prices were no different when I checked it out. I reject the idea they’re paying less than you. Housing prices all over the metro area are nuts.

      • VintageLydia says:

        I live in Manassas and the prices are definitely cheaper there than in Alexandria where I used to live. I wish we were closer to metro but we DO live a 10 minute walk from the VRE so at least for morning and evening commute times, it’s not terrible.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I disagree because you can’t just compare the money. It’s also about how much you get for the money. You can pay $1,600 for an 800 square foot apartment in Arlington but $1,600 will get you a 1,200 square foot condo in the farther suburbs. You’re just getting more bang for your buck.

        Many of our friends in the outer suburbs purchased brand new homes. The same homes in Arlington, Alexandria, and sometimes Falls Church could be $100,000 more because of the location.

        • lettucefactory says:

          Absolutely. Just for laughs, I went to realtor.com and looked at houses for rent in Leesburg.

          Right now, I’m renting a house in Falls Church. It’s a fairly crummy house. It’s 50 years old and nobody’s updated a thing in it since the mid-80s at best. Some of our windows don’t even close properly. The kitchen faucet has been broken for months, causing water to leak down into the cabinetry and mildew it all up. I’m kind of embarassed to have people over. But, it’s in a fabulous school district and the commute is great, so it rents for $2,300/month.

          What’s in Leesburg for $2,300/month? How about a 4 bed/4 bath, fully-remodeled house on a cul-de-sac with a garage, finished basement, granite countertops…or if I’d rather, an end-unit 3 bed townhouse built in 2008 with a garage and stainless steel appliances?

          You can say based on this that yes, rent costs the same in Leesburg as it does where I live now. And obviously, even Leesburg is way, way more expensive than Nebraska or Florida. But there is a HUGE difference in quality between the house I rent now and these other houses for the same amount of money per month.

          If you’re renting close to D.C., you are paying a lot to not spend huge chunks of your day stuck in traffic, even if you look at the “payment” as “staying in a crappy house rather than a nice one.” There is always a tradeoff in this region.

  6. areaman says:

    I noticed this trend when I was living in Australia. ~10 cities there have 90% of the population.

  7. j2.718ff says:

    Wow, this trend has been in effect for well over a century! (Remember that Industrial Revolution thing, in the early 1800s?) Thank you, Consumerist, for for bringing this news to me!

    • Lisse24 says:

      Um, actually, no. Cities emptied out after WWII as people opted for suburbs. The fact that the surburban trend is reversing is interesting, if not exactly earth shattering for people who have been paying attention.

  8. Vox Republica says:

    Urban areas are just more efficient. Even the added capital costs as cities expand (e.g., transit, police/fire/EMS, education) are themselves dwarfed by the overall size of urban economies and the multiplier effects of having more consumers in a given location. Of course, this presumes that people are willing to pay for such services… Ron Paul 2012.

  9. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Granted our current and future population, having the vast majority of people living in densely-packed urban environments is the only hope we have to get by with the resources we have. Big-city dwellers use a *lot* less resources (oil, fuel, electricity, etc.) than rural dwellers do. It’s a very big difference.

    Personally, I’ve spent lots of time in major cities for business over the past 15 years or so…and I can’t for the life of me figure out how people convince themselves that that’s the way their existence should be. But, I guess I owe them some sort of debt of gratitude…if it wasn’t for their sacrifice, I couldn’t live the way I want to either. And going forward, the world is going to be able to support fewer and fewer rural dwellers, ultimately to the point where the only rural populations that can reasonably be support will be those actually generating resources…like farmers.

    Isn’t it supposed to be like 9 billion by 2050? Or more? Can’t remember. Either way…scary numbers.

    • ARP says:

      I think the article is saying that, counter-intuitively, suburbs count as “urban” areas. You’re referring to true city dwellers, where people live in condos and apartments, take public transportation, walk places, etc. You know, the blame America types. Not REAL Americans. Real Americans live in exurbs or rural areas and use a disproportionate amount of resources, and then complain about taxes, costs of transportation, etc.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’ve always lived in a rural area, and I’ve only visited urban areas a few times. I know for me, moving to a city with crowds of people would be extremely stressful. I don’t know if I could ever get used to being crammed on a train car or bus with dozens of strangers day in and day out. What I really noticed was all the grafitti that seemed to cover everything in sight, even train cars. Why do people feel they can just spray paint whatever they wish, whether it belongs to them or not? My parents would have grounded me for a year if I would have done that when I was a kid.

    I like having a garden, hanging my clothes outside to dry, watching wild animals, being able to sleep at night with the windows open and just hearing peepers or crickets, or hearing nothing at all, without a bunch of extra light to block out.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think it depends on why you like the place you live in…for you, it’s the garden, hanging out your laundry, and watching wild animals. I doesn’t care for any of that (except the garden, which you can still have in a more urban area). I tell Mr. Pi I could never live in a small town because there would just not be anything to do and I couldn’t get used to not seeing people everywhere I went. I also enjoy more urban areas because I have access to resources like public transportation. I enjoy taking the subway. It’s convenient, it’s less expensive than driving to work and maintaining a car, and I don’t mind being surrounded by strangers.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Dammit. I *don’t care, not doesn’t. That’s what I get for editing a sentence too quickly.