KASU

Census: Arkansas suburbs see growth, rural areas shrink

May 29, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' fastest-growing cities are mostly suburbs while more rural, smaller cities are shrinking, according to recent census figures.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data Thursday including the state's population changes between 2010 and 2017, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The figures show about 65 percent of the state's more than 500 cities shrank during that time period. All but 10 of the shrinking cities had 10,000 or fewer people, and all but 23 had 5,000 or fewer people.

"The story really of this decade is the metropolitan areas are growing at the expense of the more rural, non-metropolitan areas," said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Housing growth is faster in the state's urban and suburban counties, according to housing data also released Thursday.

The state of suburban growth is mostly positive, but growth in their larger urban cores ranges from moderate to thriving depending on the metropolitan area, according to census data. Major cities with suburban growth in other parts of the country often are growing fast too, with St. Louis and Chicago as an exception.

Community leaders should ensure that areas with employment progress also have housing development that keeps pace with the suburban growth, so to avoid a housing scarcity that drives prices higher than the areas' wages can afford, according to economists.

Arkansas has two of the top 100 fastest-growing cities in the country since 2010, according to Pam Willrodt, a demographer at the Economic Development Institute. She said Rogers was the 33rd fastest-growing city at 18.7 percent, and Fayetteville was 63rd at 15.9 percent.

___

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com