State of Metropolitan America

The State of Metropolitan America is a signature effort of the brookings Metropolitan policy program that portrays the demographic and social trends shaping the nation’s essential economic and societal units—its large metropolitan areas—and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.

This report marks the inaugural edition of a regular summary report in brookings’ State of Metropolitan America series. it focuses on the major demographic forces transforming the nation and large metropolitan areas in the 2000s. in this sense, it previews what we will learn from the results of the  2010 census, as well as supplements those results in important ways. future editions of the annual report will examine those results, probe more deeply specific types of populations and geographies profiled in this report, and update the analysis herein as the country emerges from its deepest economic recession in decades. brookings' ongoing State of Metropolitan America series will also feature regular reports on key demographic topics, and their relevance to the changing populations of our metropolitan areas, cities, and suburbs.

The Topic

This report is arranged topically, with nine chapters that correspond to nine of the most important subjects tracked by the census bureau in its annual American community Survey (AcS; see below):

  • Population and Migration follows the population growth and decline of u.S. places over the decade, and how the movement of people—from next-door communities, from other parts of the country, and from abroad—contributed to these trends
  • Race and Ethnicity analyzes the changing racial(e.g., white, black, Asian) and ethnic (e.g.,hispanic) composition of our population, including the patterns of growth and decline in these groups in different corners of the nation.
  • Immigration focuses on America’s foreign-born population, both citizens and non-citizens: their growth, where they live, their characteristics, and the growing demographic influence of their children.
  • Age looks at the shifting balance between older and younger Americans across the country, especially as the baby boom generation—America’s largest—approaches seniorhood- Households and Families examines who makes up the fundamental units of our society, how their structures are changing over time, and how they relate to the different racial/ethnic and age profiles of America’s communities.
  • Educational Attainment profiles the educational status of adults (how much schooling they have completed, their enrollment in higher education), identifies differences by age and race/ethnicity, and relates these to the underlying economic features of regions.
  • Work analyzes two sets of indicators on the status of America’s labor force: the wages earned by differently compensated workers; and rates of unemployment, which reflect the varying degrees of economic pain experienced by different parts of the country.
  • Income and Poverty portrays trends in the economic well-being of typical households, the size of the “middle class,” and the location and characteristics of America’s sizeable and growing poor population.
  • Commuting details how we get to work, how those patterns have changed over time, and the factors contributing to the sizeable differences among communities in how workers undertake those daily trips.

Each chapter is authored by one or more Brookings experts, each of whom has written widely on the topic at hand (see “About the Authors”). The chapters include the authors’ own analysis of the most important and compelling trends over the 2000s at multiple levels of American geography (described further below), accompanied by their thoughts on what these trends mean for the future of people, places, and public policy.

Download the full report