Long the focal point of California real estate, suburban communities are becoming less popular in the years following the recession. Growth in the outer suburbs slowed almost to a halt in 2010 and 2011, according to a new report from the U. S. Census Bureau (the Census).

The slowing of growth is at least partially due to continued economic stagnation from lack of sufficient job creation. It is also likely influenced by a shift in public opinion, which is now trending in favor of residency in urban centers.

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The metropolitan area of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana saw the fifth highest numeric population growth of any metropolitan area nationwide. 115,964 people were added to the population of this area between April 2010 and April 2011.  Los Angeles County had the second highest numerical increase of any county in the U. S. Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties were all also in the top ten for numeric growth in 2011.

This is the first major data release by the Census since the recession’s official end, and provides an indication of what areas are likely to thrive as the economy continues to improve.

As employment remains below acceptable levels in spite of recent increases, and financial hardship grows for the unemployed, the victims of the recession have increasingly opted to cohabitate with parents, family members or friends.

As of spring 2011, there were a total of 21.8 million doubled-up households nationwide, up from 19.7 million in spring 2007, prior to the recession. Doubled-up households are defined as households that include at least one “additional” adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder.

In spring 2011, 5.9 million young adults nationwide aged 25-34 (14%) resided in their parents’ households, compared with 4.7 million (12%) before the recession, an increase of two percentage points.

Signs indicate that the vast majority of these young adults are living with their parents for financial reasons. Young adults aged 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 8%. If their poverty status were determined using their own income, 45% had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65. The poverty level is set by the U.S. government as an income of $22,350 or less for a family of four.

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first tuesday take: Taking in an additional roommate is a time-tested way to ride out an economic crisis. The recent generation of impoverished college graduates and young adults have cohabitated with each other and with their parents, delaying their first home purchases.

As job opportunities become available, these young people will disperse from their current residences and choose new places to live, nearer to well paying jobs fit for college graduates.  Current employment trends suggest these professional jobs will be overwhelmingly located in urban centers.

Recent census data only confirms what first tuesday has long predicted: modern homebuyers and renters are far less interested in the American Dream suburban lifestyle that captivated their Baby Boomer parents. When they are financially able to occupy a residence of their choosing, they are likely to choose a more mobile, efficient, centralized style of life. Brokers and agents need to be prepared.  Housing demands show a shift in prime locations and different pricing pressures for all areas.

Re: Census estimates show new patterns of growth nationwide from the Census

Census data offers look at effects of recession from the New York Times

 Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2010 from the Census