The Suburban Advantage
New Census Data Show Unyielding City-Suburb Economic Gap,
and Surprising Shifts in Some Places
John R. Logan, Director
Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research
University at Albany
June 24, 2002
|This report and the data analyses on
which it is based were completed with the assistance of Deirdre Oakley, Jacob Stowell,
Brian Stults, Polly Smith, and Jannette Swanson.
According to new census figures about metropolitan America,
the economic advantages enjoyed by suburban regions over the last four decades continue to
outpace that of our cities. New analyses by the Lewis Mumford Center show that the
city-suburb gap is getting bigger, even in unexpected places.
The income gap between city and suburban dwellers
persists: Increases in median income were twice as large in the suburbs than in the cities
($3,102 vs. $1,831) and per capita income increased by about $1,000 more for the
suburbanite than the city dweller.
The poverty rate is twice as high in the cities than in
the suburbs (18.2% vs. 8.6%), remaining unchanged since 1990.
Unemployment is significantly higher in cities than in
suburbs. Cities have over a third more unemployment (8% vs. 5%).
Cities have just as many college-educated and professionally
employed residents as suburbs. Cities and suburbs are close to equal on
percentages of college-educated persons (27% vs. 26%) and those working in professional
managerial jobs (35.5% vs. 34%).
Cities in the South and West are doing better. The
city-suburb disparity in the South and the West is significantly less than in the
Northeast and Midwest and has increased less markedly since 1990.
In a few areas the cities are faring better than suburbs
or rapidly closing the economic gap. Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL are two metro regions
where large city-suburb disparities have declined since 1990.
This report examines trends in city- suburb economic disparities for the nations
331 metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2000 with a total current population of 225
million people. It draws on Demographic Profile data on a wide range of social and
economic indicators, based on the Census 2000 long form questionnaire, which was completed
by a 1-in-6 sample of households. It examines eight indicators of prosperity, including
median and per capita income; rates of poverty and unemployment; education and
occupational status, as well as homeownership and housing vacancy.