Michael Barone

And despite wonderful weather, domestic in-migration is negligible in the San Francisco Bay area and metro San Diego.

Although most of this growth is driven by the private sector, one disquieting thing is how many of these cities are state capitals. It looks like government is generating growth, while the private sector in most places languishes.

On the other end of the growth list, metro Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y., are continuing to lose population, as their central cities empty out and inner suburbs age.

There is very slow growth in what were booming interior cities in the 19th century -- Rochester, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

None of the metro areas in the Amtrak corridor from Washington to Boston is growing as fast as the nation, and some -- Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. -- are barely growing at all.

But 2010-12 population growth exceeded the national average in some Midwestern metros -- Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids, Mich. (which just made it over the 1 million mark).

Of course, it's still possible to live a comfortable and productive life in a city that is not growing.

Many point to Pittsburgh, the only million-plus metro area with more births than deaths, as an example. Its "meds and eds" economy -- health care and higher education -- is stable, and the air is a lot cleaner than when the steel mills were belching smoke.

But a great nation needs growth to give people opportunity to move upward and to allow the downwardly mobile to live as comfortably as they did growing up. Population trends give us clues as to what works and what doesn't.

Not every metro area can be a high-tech center like Austin or Raleigh. But the continuing rapid growth of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, unendowed with great natural beauty and scorched during five-month summers, suggest that others should take the Texas example seriously.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


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