[Excerpt] In recent years, job growth in downtown centers nationwide has far outpaced growth in surrounding suburban areas, according to a widely-cited report released this week by the City Observatory. According to a DataHaven analysis of the Census dataset used in the report, New Haven and Hartford are experiencing a similar shift.
The rising shares of jobs, and particularly higher-paying jobs, that are located in city centers indicate that suburbs – and indeed, the entire State of Connecticut – are increasingly dependent on city cores like New Haven, Hartford, and New York City to provide employment and living wages.
The faster growth rates in urban centers, compared to peripheral areas which in many towns are actually losing jobs, reverse a decades-long trend in which employment opportunities rose in suburbs but stagnated in city centers. The New York Times notes that “as people increasingly choose to live in cities instead of outside them, employers are following.”
The study compared many American metropolitan areas, defining the city center as the three-mile ring surrounding the central business district, and the suburbs as the remainder of the metropolitan area, and examining job growth from 2002-2007 and from 2007-2011 (see image).
Additional analysis by DataHaven identified similar trends in Connecticut, where the concentration of jobs is growing in the areas near downtown Hartford and New Haven, but falling within surrounding suburban towns.
Following the method used by City Observatory, DataHaven defined the “urban cores” as the three-mile radius around each city center (for Connecticut, defined as City Hall). However, we defined surrounding suburban regions as the area between three miles and 15 miles beyond that, which we believe to be a more accurate reflection of the way that metropolitan areas are structured in New England than the Census definition, which is based on county boundaries.