The Slumburbs of Our FutureS

It is not hard to explain the prevailing demographic trends in America over the past decade or so: the inflating bubble caused Americans to rush further and further out into the far-flung suburbs in order to purchase homes, to live the American dream; construction and lending skyrocketed along the way; when the bubble burst, our nation was left with millions of homeowners stranded far, far out in the lonely exurbs, with homes they can't really afford, as the wealthy flee back into the cities. And now, we simply wait for the Slumburbs to flower, in all of their awful glory.

New census data out today shows a glimpse of the slow-motion transformation that will render outer-ring suburbs into convenient dumping grounds for the poor who can no longer afford to live in our newly desirable inner cities. Already, suburban growth is grinding to a halt: "Population in the country's outer suburbs grew at just 0.4 percent in the year ended last July, down from 1 percent in the previous year and a peak in 2006 of more than 2 percent."

What's next? Well, I'm just a Professional Internet Blog Demographer and Certified Trend Analysis expert, but I'd say that poverty will now eat the American urban environment from the inside out—meaning that far-flung exurbs will become full-fledged slum wastelands, as closer-in, contiguous suburbs will be a mixed bag, staying prosperous if the cities they are attached to are themselves prosperous, slowly spiraling into lower-class havens if their nearby cities are not doing well. And, just as the wealthy used to flee cities and congregate in walled suburban developments, cities themselves will become upper class bastions in which the wealthy push out the poor through simple market economics, and then use their political clout (under the rubric of "community development") to see to it that police forces act as de facto security guards, keeping the urban environment free of the riff-raff. New places, same old shit.

The slumburban era is here. Get your urban artists' lofts while you can still afford them.

[Image: Ethan/ Flickr]