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Not Dead Yet

Joel Kotkin argues that the rumors of the demise of suburbia have been greatly exaggerated--in part because suburbs aren't just bedroom communities anymore:

[S]ince 2003, when gas prices began their climb, suburban population growth has continued to outstrip that of the central cities, with about 90% of all metropolitan growth occurringin suburban communities, according to the 2000 to 2006 census. And the most recent statistics from the annual American Community Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, show no sign of a significant shift of the population to urban counties, at least through 2007.

The flat condominium markets in most large urban markets are another sign that people are not streaming into cities from the suburbs and buying. Many condo projects in such cities as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and San Diego have either been canceled or converted into rentals, with many units remaining vacant. As a Southern California condo developer told me recently, lower house prices are not going to make people more disposed to buying apartments. ...

The problem for many cities is that they lack the jobs for people to move close to. Since the 1970s, the suburbs have been the home for most high-tech jobs and now the majority of office space. By 2000, only 22% of people worked within three miles of a city center in the nation's 100 largest metro areas. And from 2001 to 2006, job growth in suburbia expanded at six times the rate of that in urban cores.

And there's no shortage of creative proposals for how to curb gasoline usage without a mass urban migration--like more fuel-efficient vehicles, telecommuting, or Utah's new four-day workweek.

--Josh Patashnik