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Charlotte’s getting more dense while Raleigh sprawls

Downtown Raleigh as seen from Boylan Avenue bridge on April 6, 2017.
Downtown Raleigh as seen from Boylan Avenue bridge on April 6, 2017. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Contrary to popular perception, the United States is continuing to become more suburban and at a faster rate, with a few exceptions, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

In North Carolina, Charlotte is building up, while Raleigh is building out.

The Times used data to debunk “the myth of the return to cities” by showing that cities like Seattle and Charlotte are becoming more dense while Raleigh and Austin sprawl.

Rural areas are lagging their metro neighbors in several ways, but inside metropolitan areas, suburbs are growing faster in both population and job growth, the Times reported.

Housing prices, though, are climbing faster in urban areas than the suburbs, the newspaper reported. The analysis found that urban neighborhoods are younger and richer than they once were, as more educated residents and fewer school-age children occupy those spots.

The movement of higher-wage jobs into city centers and the addition of more urban retail catering to those well-paid workers and residents also has contributed, the Times reported.

But the population is growing faster in the suburbs and the housing supply is limited in urban areas, continually pushing people outside to the suburbs.

Metro areas in the U.S. are split as some become more dense while others sprawl.

Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Hartford and Charlotte all became more dense from 2010-16, according to data from the 2016 census county population estimates and occupied housing unit data from the U.S. Postal Service.

San Antonio, Austin, Oklahoma City, Houston, Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Fla., Orlando, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Raleigh all became less dense during the same period, the Times reported.

According to the data, dense metros are getting denser while sprawling metro areas are only sprawling more.

To read more about the Times’ analysis of city growth, go to www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/upshot/seattle-climbs-but-austin-sprawls-the-myth-of-the-return-to-cities.html.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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