Thursday, May 23, 2013

Growth & Abandonment: Chicago's Population Continues to Shift

Why the Smartest People in the Midwest All Move to Chicago (Edward McClelland, Chicago Mag)

Despite Population Growth, Chicago Still at a Loss (Sun-Times)

The Census estimates came out today. Chicago gained about 10,000 over the last year - which is significant but still half the rate of growth in New York and L.A. Meanwhile, the only two major cities in America to loose population over the last year where Detroit and Cleveland. The trend continues. I suspect that Chicago's far South and West Sides are still loosing population at a steady clip. Most of this, again, is due to African American out-migration (90% of Chicago's population loss during the 2000 - 2010 decade can be attributed to "Black Flight"). I discussed the tragedy of this trend in earlier posts.

If we were to take Detroit as a comparable example to Chicago's South Side (they're very similar in terms of size, demographics and economic history), we might estimate that Chicago lost anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people from these neighborhoods during 2012 (Detroit lost 12,000). This means that the city had to gain a total of 20k - 25k people in the Central Area, North and Northwest Sides to offset the loss on the South and West Sides. 20k - 25k would put Chicago right in line percentage-wise with the growth rates of New York in L.A., which don't have anything close to the poverty, decay and abandonment of the South and West Sides.

I illustrate this only to reinforce the point that Chicago is now two cities: One post-industrial city that is still in a free fall - becoming more and more impoverished and abandoned every year and another "Global" city that is growing as fast (if not faster) than any city in the country. This would explain why apartment occupancy and rents in the Central area and North Side are as high as they've ever been while the South Side continues to bleed.

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