New Study Finds Fastest-Growing Cities Not the Most Prosperous

Camille Gamboa, EurekAlert, July 19, 2012

As communities seek new ways to emerge from the recession, many may look to growing their population as a strategy. However, the belief that population growth will bring jobs and economic prosperity for local residents is a myth. These findings are published in a new study in the latest issue of Economic Development Quarterly (published by SAGE).

“Growth may be associated with economic development success; however, it is not the cause of that success,” wrote study author Eben Fodor.

Fodor examined the relationship between growth and economic prosperity in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2009 to determine whether certain benefits commonly attributed to growth are supported by statistical data. He found that the slowest-growing metro areas had lower unemployment rates, lower poverty rates, higher income levels, and were less impacted by the recession than the fastest-growing areas. In fact, in 2009, local residents of slower-growing areas averaged $8,455 more per capita in personal income than those of the fastest-growing areas.

“The successful economic development program is typically the one that creates new jobs,” Fodor wrote. “The new jobs tend to stimulate population growth as people move into the area seeking to take advantage of the new employment opportunities … But growth is not creating employment opportunities. Instead it is reducing them as newcomers fill job openings.”

This new study used information taken from the U.S. Census to study 100 of the largest metro areas, representing 66% of the total U.S. population. It concluded with a comparison of the 25 slowest-growing metro areas with the 25 fastest growing from 2000 to 2009. The slowest growing areas were located in 13 different states, including Connecticut, New York, and Ohio while the fastest-growing areas came from 12 different states, dominated by California, Florida, and Texas.

[Editor’s Note: The full study is available here.]


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  • Boereseun

    Well duh! Surely this is common sense? Increasing populations usually just means the usage of extra resources without the simultaneous increase in production output to compensate. If your population increases steadily over time, the economic expansion allows for the extra population to find employment and in turn become productive and create more jobs. It’s timing. Flood any city in the world with 3rd world people and it will be poor. No matter how many productive people were there beforehand, they just don’t have the capability to absorb that many in a short space of time.

    With an unemployment rate of over 5 %, a country doesn’t need immigration full stop, legal or otherwise. At that stage it should be highly educated people only or people with a very select type of skill.  Should be a law somewhere…

  • The__Bobster

    I lived in a White city with a declining population. It had many advantages, such as cheap housing and empty highways.

  • Well, according to the black female mayor of Baltimore all these immigrants bring jobs with them, that’s why she is laying down the welcome mat for them in her city.

    • Southern__Hoosier

      Did she say they brought jobs or brought votes?

      • Strider73

         They do bring votes, but they also bring jobs — for the welfare and social-service bureaucracy. And those are the only jobs those politicians care about.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    I don’t understand. I would have thought all those minorities and unemployed would stimulate the economy with all their welfare checks and unemployment checks.

  • Larry Klein

    Give credit where credit is due. I recall Mayor Bing (black man) of Detroit stated Mayor Bloombrain of NYC must’ve been “smoking something” when learning of Bloombrain’s idea to bring prosperity to Detroit by flooding it with illegal aliens.

    • El_Magyar

      Dave Bing is a very good mayor. The problem is he is always fighting the fat old rats of Detroit who think he is a “Tom” because he cares more about Detroit being successful than “chocolate”.

  • KenelmDigby

    Day in, day out, incessantly we are hammered by politicians, the media, academics, ‘the great and the good’ (but they aren’t), telling us that mass uncontrolled third world immigration is not only ‘beneficial’, but ‘necessary’ , in that the charlatans who hold power (undeservedly), keep insisting that the immigrants will ‘save’ the economies of the western world. Needless to say all these bombastic opinions repeated with such vehemenance were based on zero evidence, let alone scanty evidence.
         Here we see that the central tenet of uncontrolled, massive third world immigration is purely guff – and guff of the most malodorous type.

  • Over the years I’ve heard various leaders of our small city talk about the importance of growing the population. 

    It makes no sense. Why does ‘more people’ make for a better community?

    Granted, there are aspects of large cities that are beneficial (a greater choice of restaurants). But the negatives aspects of large cities far outweighs their benefits. 

  • El_Magyar

    The fast growing communities in Florida were pretty much fueled by the housing boom (i.e. fake money in the hands of idiots).