March 16, 2006


Census shows city population dropping (Jay Fitzgerald, 3/16/06, Boston Herald)

People are leaving Boston at a stunning rate of about 27 a day - with nearly 10,000 bolting Suffolk County last year alone, according to new U.S. Census Data.

That’s more than 1 person bailing out on life in the Hub every hour.

The pace of population decline in Suffolk County - made up overwhelmingly by Boston but also including Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop - was the fastest of any county in Massachusetts from July 2004 through July 2005, data shows.

The prohibitively high cost of housing and lack of jobs helped drive 9,835 people out of Suffolk County last year - the fourth straight year in which the Boston area lost population to outlying communities or other states. [...]

[Michael Goodman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute,] said the census estimates do reflect statewide numbers showing Massachusetts is losing population. Earlier this year, the bureau estimated the state’s overall population fell by 0.1 percent to 6,398,743, the second straight year of population decline.

As cities become just theme/office parks one would expect and hope to see people move out.

Metro area 'fringes' are booming (Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, 3/15/06, USA TODAY)

Americans continue their march away from congested and costly areas halfway through the decade, settling in more remote counties even if it means longer commutes, according to Census population estimates released Thursday. (Graphic: Population shifting)

Some of the fastest-growing counties in 2005 lie on the farthest edges of large metropolitan areas, stretching the definition of "exurbs" to the limit.

"It's not just the decade of the exurbs but the decade of the exurbs of the exurbs," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution. "People are leaving expensive cores and going as far out as they can to get a big house and a big yard. Suburbia is moving much further out."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 16, 2006 7:55 AM

Movin' to the 'burbs will require more cars.

Posted by: sharon at March 16, 2006 11:10 AM

Interesting that both stories propose economic drivers for the change, i.e., cities are too expensive and driving people out. There are other possible reasons, such as people find the dominant culture and ethos of the city repulsive and seek places to live where their cultural norms are not affronted.

The easy recourse to one-dimensional economic determinism may be one of those repulsive features.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 16, 2006 11:12 AM

Just better train lines.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 11:50 AM

trains have cars too :P

Posted by: toe at March 16, 2006 1:31 PM

it's odd that liberal run areas have high property values weak economies. not sure why that is, maybe just herding of like with like.

Posted by: toe at March 16, 2006 1:33 PM

"Movin' to the 'burbs will require more cars." Not necessarily, a lot of people work at home and keep contact with the office via the Internet. Those who move to outlying 'burbs' are not driving to work in the city. E.g., a lawyer doesn't have to show up in the office everyday, he can do his research at home, and confer with his colleagues via the phone, or IM, or email. Any non-electronic documents can be Fedex-ed. That's what I've been doing since April last year. Save a lot of gas, a lot of driving too. Some guys even moved to another state.

Posted by: ic at March 16, 2006 3:00 PM

Light rail (aka, trolleys), the 19th Century solution for 21st Century transportation problems.

There was an article in Trains magazine earlier this year that concluded, at least as it applied to Minneapolis-St.Paul, that the trolleys weren't killed by any conspiracy, but by customers, and the decline started in the 1920s. The only reason they survived until the 50s was because of WWII, and part of the reason for their demise was over-regulation. For example, fare were kept at a dime from 1929 through 1948, despite losses starting in 1934.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 16, 2006 3:08 PM

Clang clang, clang went the trolley. Anyone else take one to school?

Posted by: erp at March 16, 2006 6:38 PM

My dad used to put cherry bombs on the rails.

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 16, 2006 7:14 PM

A train ran behind our schoolyard, so they used to show us rail safety films when it rained. After watching them pick up dead kids with pointy sticks and stuffing the parts in Hefty bags we pretty much left the trains alone....

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 7:20 PM

Yes, there are people who can telecommute but most do not, even those living in the exurbs. And those are not the places most public transportation runs. Public transportation is a city thang.

Posted by: sharon at March 16, 2006 7:24 PM

Wake up - people are leaving Boston and Mass because many have had enough of the far left nonsense that is found in Massachusetts the land of Teddy Kennedy. Not only are people leaving but business such as Fidelity as well.

Socialism isnt working in France's economy - and its not working here in Mass.

Posted by: Limo Liberal at March 20, 2006 11:19 AM