Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The return of the non-creative class: wealthy suburbs

The recent release of census data in the United States shows that suburban communities in Virginia lead the United States in wealth generation.  At the same time, the highest incidence of poverty was concentrated in American Indian reservations in South Dakota.

The above findings regarding suburban communities should be of interest to urban planners who often believe the suburbs to be undesirable landscapes inhabited by obese and lifeless individuals, whose lives are soon to be buried under the unsustainable mortgage debt.  Not only the latest data show an increase in wealth in the suburban communities, but also a concentration of highly educated individuals.  According to the data, seven counties out of a total of 17 where more than 50% of the adults possessed a a bachelors degree were located in suburban communities.

The data from the American Community Survey also revealed that immigrant populations are fast spreading in the United States into communities where they had not set foot in the past.  The immigrants have started to move into suburban and rural communities whereas in the past, immigrants concentrated primarily in urban communities.


From the New York Times,


WASHINGTON — The three places in the country with the highest median household income are all in Virginia, according to census datareleased on Tuesday, while those with the highest rates of poverty are in four American Indian reservations, all in South Dakota.

The Virginia counties of Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Falls Church had the highest median income, according to the data, which spans 2005 to 2009. Falls Church was the highest at $113,313, up by 17 percent from 2000. The lowest median income was in Owsley County, Ky., at $18,869.

Of the five counties with poverty rates higher than 39 percent, four contain or are in American Indian reservations in South Dakota. The fifth, Willacy County, Tex., is on the Gulf Coast.

The data is from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which samples 1 in 10 Americans on a variety of social, economic and demographic topics. It is the single largest release of data in the bureau’s history, with 11 billion individual estimates covering 670,000 geographic locations. It gives details on the characteristics of American society based on surveys, and is separate from the 2010 Census, which will provide a precise count of all Americans.

In another finding, the immigrant population has spread out to areas that previously had none. The number of immigrants increased by 40 percent in the nearly 2,500 counties where they had comprised less than 5 percent of the population in 2000. Immigrants have traditionally settled in cities, but in the last decade, they have followed jobs to rural and suburban areas, particularly ones with housing booms.

Among the sharpest increases were in Frederick County, Md., where the foreign-born population nearly tripled to almost 10 percent of the population. Other fast risers were Stafford County, Va., where the foreign-born population also tripled, and Newton County, Ga., where it jumped fourfold.

Meanwhile, the nation’s traditional immigrant centers — the 16 counties where immigrants made up more than 30 percent of the population, according to the data — saw their foreign-born population grow by only a quarter million.

The suburbs of Washington also contained the highest concentration of people with higher education. Seven of the 17 counties where more than half of people 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree were in the city’s suburbs. Three counties were in Colorado (Boulder, Douglas and Pitkin) and two were in California (Marin and San Francisco) and Maryland (Howard and Montgomery).

There were 62 counties where less than 10 percent of the adult population had a bachelor’s degree. Fourteen of these counties were in Georgia, nine in Tennessee, eight in Kentucky and five each in Florida and West Virginia.

Sabrina Tavernise reported from Washington, and Robert Gebeloff from New York.

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