June 6, 2005


Hot spots of US population growth (Christopher Leonard, 6/07/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

When Shannon Monteith got a promotion last year, she packed up her things, said goodbye to San Francisco, and headed to the big time - Benton County, Arkansas.

Ms. Monteith couldn't find Northwest Arkansas on a map before she moved here. But as a saleswoman for candymaker Hershey Foods Corp., she was familiar with her new client: Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

"It's the biggest company in the world - if you're in sales you always want to be on the biggest customer," she says.

Benton County wasn't the backwater that Monteith feared it might be. She eventually bought a home in Shadow Valley, a gated community that hums with activity - from tennis games to roving golf carts to kids playing in newly landscaped yards.

Just a few years ago, Shadow Valley was Ozark pastureland and forest. But as thousands of people move to Benton County, drawn by an economic boom fueled by Wal-Mart, the region is being rapidly redrawn - with an influx that puts it among the nation's 70 fastest-growing counties, according to the most recent US Census Bureau report. [...]

[P]opulation growth isn't confined to suburban boomtowns or cities in the Sunbelt and Rocky Mountains. It's affecting far-flung spots as well, culminating what demographer Robert Lang calls the "triumph of the exurbs" - new communities so far outside of cities that they almost stand alone.

The suburbs built in the 1970s now act as "anchors," he says, projecting population growth even farther away from urban cores. Now, people are moving farther and farther afield to attain the American Dream - or at least buy their piece of a new American exurb.

"Your typical suburbanite still wants to live in the biggest lot they can buy for the least amount of money," says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. "The common thing about all these counties is that the most affordable land in all these areas is out in the periphery."

..they're too crowded.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2005 8:53 PM

Because of the type of people being drawn to the new American exurb, the exurbs are not likely to become part of our "Rust Belt".

Posted by: John J. Coupal at June 6, 2005 9:15 PM

When Daniel (Boone) met Robert (Frost).

Posted by: ghostcat at June 6, 2005 9:24 PM

"Your typical suburbanite still wants to live in the biggest lot they can buy for the least amount of money..."

Brought to you by the Department of Duh.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at June 6, 2005 9:34 PM

Oj - Am I the first to get the Yogi reference in the title and your comment?

Posted by: Foos at June 6, 2005 10:03 PM

"The common thing about all these counties is that the most affordable land in all these areas is out in the periphery."

This affordable land on the periphery is brought to you by Low Taxes on Gasoline. Cheap gas and your car: don't leave the city without them!

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 6, 2005 10:15 PM

Foos -

Apparently so. I certainly missed it, absent the overt "too crowded". I'm so ashamed.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 6, 2005 10:27 PM

"They're too crowded." ??

Actually, quite the opposite. The problem with American cities (i.e., why they are all dead, with the exception of Manhattan), is that they are not anywhere near sufficiently crowded. And they empty out at night. Only in America does a city empty out at night. Only in America is a city bereft of the two most precious demographics: children and old people. It's sad, really.

Posted by: geo at June 7, 2005 7:44 AM

The city where I work is trying to attract new residents. It lost almost all its white population in the 60s and 70s for familiar reasons and is now so solidly run by the Democratic machine that the Republicans don't bother fielding candidates for the city council in most wards. The machine's strategy for attracting new residents is to lure the young, single, promiscuous and well-paid (bankers, lawyers, etc.) to live in newly-constructed luxury condos downtown, surrounded by newly-constructed bars, restaurants, spas, etc. In other words, they're trying to attract Democratic-leaning voters with money. I expect they'll try to get the state to fund a new university downtown any day now.

Meanwhile, the schools are wretched, the streets are neither paved nor plowed, the city taxes are extortionate, the drug trade is taking off and crime is at a high not seen since the late 70s. Welcome to Richard Florida-ville.


Posted by: Random Lawyer at June 7, 2005 11:28 AM

And except for a few east coast cities and Chicago, cities aren't crowded enough to make non-automotive transportation come anywhere close to paying for itself. Hence all the "light rail" boondoggles you see along the west coast. (Trolleys — the 19th century solution for 21st century transportation. Next they'll start talking up a return to horses to replace cars.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 7, 2005 11:48 AM

Do you want to see why the cities are empty at night? I suggest that you catch the chilling surveillance camera actual footage of a female x-ray tech having her brains blown out last week by a grungy street critter in downtown Philadelphia, She is walking down Market street, having just gotten off a bus on the way to her hospital, when the guy walks up from behind and whacks her in the side of the head like General Loan doing the Communist,

Are you surprised that we're all not not rushing down to the city after dark for a Kumbaya sing-a-long? At least it's Pennsylvania, so we all pack a piece when we have to go into Indian country, but please forgive me if I do not spend very much time there when I don't need to.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 7, 2005 12:08 PM

The Mardi Gras riots in Seattle a few years ago were all I needed to see to get me to stay away. Gangs of blacks beat down whoever crossed their path and the police were told to ignore it. One young man was murdered. White youths also engaged in serial groping and molestations. If it wasn't for some video footage that showed what had happened, the liberal media would have covered much of it up. As it was it took 2 or 3 days for the truth to come out.


Posted by: Patrick H at June 7, 2005 1:00 PM