Population Migration by Block: Evidence of the Subprime Legacy?

Via @flowingdata, we have a very interesting map, indeed:

Growth Rings – Maps Of U.S. Population Change, 2000-2010.

As the author points out, there is some notion of the suburban flight present in these maps, except to say that this flight is normally a pretty cyclical thing: people move out of the city and into the ‘burbs while their kids move out of the ‘burbs and into the city. These maps seem to display a much larger and more prolonged trend. He also points out the following:

Ah, the classic flight to the suburbs, but with a twist! Click through and look closely, and at the very center of the biggest cities – within a stone’s throw of downtown – you’ll see a tiny, resurgent dot of blue. Apparently, at some point in recent history, a home address amongst the skyscrapers became desirable again.

So we have an increase in population in the suburbs and exburbs, accompanied by an equal population boom in centers of cities. There’s a pretty easy explanation for this: subprime lending schemes.

I recall the map of Monroe County from the hight of the Subprime fallout and it looked almost exactly like the maps I’m seeing here. The center of Rochester was deep red, as were Mendon and other southern exburbs, while the more stable neighborhoods of Rochester and Brighton seemed almost unfazed by foreclosures. And that should not be surprising: “subprime,” or “less than desirable credit” mortgages happen in two populations most often: the poor, and the upwardly-mobile who are overextended.

So, while the author of this blog post interprets the blue patches as revitalization projects in downtown areas – and he may even be right in some cases – the map serves as evidence of the long-term effects that ten years of bad loans have had on suburban sprawl. It will be interesting to see some other map similar to this in ten years time.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.