The Pieces Don’t Fit

Business analysts often throw bits of information at the public without thinking about the larger context in which that information exists.

A normally favorite site of mine, 24/, did this earlier today. Their article discussed Americans abandoning large cities in favor of smaller, more economical communities in the South and West.

If that were true, it would suggest that the South and West would decline as conservative and GOP strongholds as big city residents bring their values with them. (Think Miami, which no longer is in sync with the rest of Florida politically.) Maybe that will happen.

However, it also suggests that Americans are lemmings.

The top cities cited in their article are places like Ft. Myers, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and Virginia Beach Virginia. These are all places that are facing rising sea levels or impending water shortages — meaning that a homebuyer may face financial ruin. Certainly, buying in a high water area, paying an astronomical amount for home insurance and then losing said home is not a recipe for financial success. Nor is buying into an area where you have to truck in water from 500 miles away. Yes, you may buy a nice home, but you may not be able to sell it. Who wants to pay $50 to take a bath?

I know Virginia Beach because I used to work there. A few residents are jacking up their homes, but most are simply in denial. Even on a nice day, parking lots in adjacent Norfolk are flooded by harbor water — that started happening more than three years ago, and its getting worse. And people want to buy property there??

Norfolk on a bad day

At least in New York and Boston, people are making plans for what they have to do to deal with change. Denial is not a plan.

In fact the assumption of a mass migration may be premature. There will be change, especially as fewer people come to the US from other countries for jobs. Expensive cities, as we have seen with San Francisco, will become less expensive, and investors in real estate will get hurt. But does that mean that cities will depopulate? Maybe incrementally. For that matter, with Covid, I expect the current Census to show a decline in population in New Jersey from 2010.

For most areas, we won’t really know what’s happened until the 2030 Census. Maybe we need to do the counts more often.




  1. Many moons ago, I worked for the US Census. The ten year census is just the big daddy/mama of counts. They run surveys on all those numbers and many more all the time. When I worked for Habitat for Humanity, I used those reports and surveys all the time to figure out how communities were changing on a year by year basis.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was in corporate research, and made extensive use of Census numbers. In relatively static eras, the ten-year interval is fine. When there are rapid changes, maybe not so much.


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