The Fastest-Growing and Declining Cities Across the U.S. [2023]

The FinanceBuzz team looked at America’s biggest cities, including population, jobs, earnings, and other metrics to find which cities are booming and which ones are going bust.

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Updated May 13, 2024
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Cities are constantly evolving, and not always in the same ways. While one city may have solid finances and a growing population, another may see its people and prosperity trickle away.

While the specific reasons behind a city’s features are unique, there are common data points that apply to cities across the country. To identify U.S. cities’ fates and fortunes, the FinanceBuzz team examined more than 100 of America’s biggest cities and found the fastest-rising and fastest-declining places in the country.

In this article

Key findings

  • San Francisco, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; and New York, New York, are the fastest-declining cities in the United States.
  • Frisco, Texas; Gilbert, Arizona; and Chandler, Arizona, are among the fastest-rising cities nationwide.
  • Texas has four cities that rank in the top 25 fastest-declining metropolitan areas.

How we chose metrics and cities

For this analysis, we wanted to see how things have changed in each city when comparing the recent past to the present. Specifically, we tracked growth and decline by looking at a three-year period starting with the last full pre-pandemic year (2019) and ending with the most recent full calendar year (2022). Every U.S. city with a population in excess of 200,000 people in 2019 was included, for a total of 117 cities.

  • Population change (2019 to 2022): A steadily increasing population is a trademark of healthy, growing cities, while a shrinking population can be a sign of decline.
  • Unemployment rate change (2019 to 2022): If a city has a booming economy, it tends to be easier to find work, while struggling cities will have higher unemployment rates.
  • Per capita income increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022): Income has increased in every city in the country since 2019, but it’s risen at a faster rate in booming cities compared to declining ones.
  • New home construction: Cities on the rise tend to lead to population increases, which means there is more demand for new housing. We looked at the number of homes constructed per capita.
  • New businesses: Thriving cities tend to be attractive locations for business owners looking to open up or expand shop. For this metric, we looked at the number of new businesses opened relative to the population.
  • Percentage of homes that are vacant: If a high percentage of available homes are empty in a city, then a lack of demand from people moving to the city and/or an exodus of previous residents may be to blame.
  • Home value increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022): Cities in decline tend to trail behind their peers when it comes to how much more valuable their homes become over time.
  • Percentage of residents with debt in collections: Having a high percentage of the population with delinquent loans and bills can be reflective of a poor financial environment in a given city. Plus, it can hamper future financial growth.

Our team took these factors together and used the results to create an indexed score that dynamically compares each city relative to all others. Scores were weighted to a 100-point scale, with higher scores indicating cities that are in greater decline.

The top 10 fastest-declining cities

So which cities have seen the sharpest declines in recent years, and why are they struggling? We examined the 10 cities with the highest “decline score” in our analysis to find out.


1. San Francisco, California

Since 2019, San Francisco’s population has dropped by 8.29% — the sharpest drop of any of the 117 cities we looked at. Additionally, home values have risen at the slowest rate of any city in the country — nearly 73% slower than the national average. These factors, combined with slow per capita rates of new home construction and new business openings, make San Francisco the country’s fastest-declining city overall.

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has the highest rate of vacant houses of any city in this analysis, with a whopping 22.9% of homes in the city unoccupied. The city has seen its population decline by 5% in the last three years while also experiencing markedly low per capita rates of new home construction and new business openings.

3. New York, New York

Home values in New York City have risen at one of the slowest rates in the country since 2019 — 71% slower than their peer cities. At the same time, New York City’s unemployment rate has increased by 1.2%, tied with Detroit, Michigan, for the highest increase of any top-10 declining city.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

A 6% decline in population in the last three years, coupled with home value increases that are 62% slower than average, were more than enough to land Boston in the top five.

5. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit’s population has fallen by 7.4% since 2019, a rate that is bested only by San Francisco, California. Beyond an exodus of people, per capita income has risen 75% slower than average. That’s the third-worst rate in the country.

6. Chicago, Illinois

Another Midwestern city in the top 10. Chicago’s home values have risen 58% slower than other cities, while per capita income has risen 36% slower than other cities in the last three years.

7. Anchorage, Alaska

The largest city in Alaska lands on this list thanks to slow home value increases and low per capita rates of new business openings and new home construction. All of these metrics rank among the five lowest in the country.

8. Portland, Oregon

Portland has experienced a 3% population decline since 2019, while per capita income and home value have risen 26% and 30% (respectively) slower than average in that same time period.

9. Honolulu, Hawaii

Despite having one of the 10 lowest percentages of the population with debt in collections at just 15%, Honolulu’s housing issues in recent years still land it in the top 10. The city built just 135 new homes for every 100,000 residents in 2022, one of the 10 lowest rates in the country. At the same time, existing home values increased 51% slower than in other cities.

10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Home value and per capita income rates are big reasons that Baton Rouge joins nearby New Orleans, Louisiana, on this list. Home values in the city have risen at a rate 57% slower than peer cities since 2019, while income has risen 51% slower than average.

The top 10 fastest-rising cities

While all of the cities mentioned above have struggled in the last few years, there are other places that have been thriving since 2019. The following cities have the lowest decline scores in the country, marking them as cities on the rise.


1. Frisco, Texas

Housing tells the story in this city near Dallas, Texas, as more than 2,200 new homes per 100,000 people were built in the city in 2022. That’s while just 3.5% of existing homes in Frisco sit vacant. This high demand for housing makes sense given Houston, Texas', 9.5% population increase since 2019.

2. Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert is the first of three different cities located near Phoenix, Arizona, that land in the top five. Gilbert has an even lower vacant housing rate than Frisco, Texas, at just 2.9%. That’s even more impressive given that home values in Gilbert have risen at one of the five fastest comparative rates in the country, increasing a whopping 77% faster than average since 2019.

3. Chandler, Arizona

As the second city in the Phoenix, Arizona, area on this list, Chandler has a housing market very similar to Gilbert, Arizona. Chandler has also enjoyed strong improvements in business and jobs in recent years. Unemployment has fallen by 0.6% in the last three years, while nearly 30,000 new businesses per 100,000 people opened in 2022.

4. North Las Vegas, Nevada

North Las Vegas has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country over the last three years, as the population has grown by more than 11%, and per capita income has risen 49% faster than average.

5. Glendale, Arizona

Glendale is the final city in the Phoenix, Arizona, cluster to land in our top five, thanks in large part to the biggest increase in home values in the country. Between 2019 and 2022, home values in Glendale have risen 82% faster than in peer cities.

6. Orlando, Florida

The East Coast home of Mickey Mouse is one of America’s top tourist destinations, and it’s also a popular place to move to. Over the last three years, Orlando’s population has risen by nearly 10%, while home values have risen at a rate of 24% faster than average.

7. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, no city in our entire analysis has experienced a bigger three-year population boom than Port St. Lucie. The city has grown by nearly 15%, with its population increase also fueling the nation’s highest rate of new home construction (2,385 new homes per 100,000 people in 2022).

8. Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is another city that has enjoyed a significant population increase in recent years, growing by nearly 11% since 2019. That is the third-highest rate in the country, behind only Port St. Lucie, Florida, and North Las Vegas, Nevada.

9. Miami, Florida

Miami boasts a booming business scene, as there were more than 28,000 new businesses opened per 100,000 people in 2022. Even more crucial to the city’s top-10 ranking is the fact that per capita income in the city has risen 135.6% faster than in other cities since 2019. That’s the fastest rate of any city we studied.

10. Boise, Idaho

Boise’s unemployment rate has fallen by 2.6% since 2019, while home values have increased 79% faster than other cities (the second-highest rate in the country). Additionally, just 17% of Boise’s residents have debt in collections. That’s one of the 15-lowest rates in the country.

A city-by-city breakdown of America’s fastest-declining and growing cities

City Population change

(2019-2022)

Unemploy-ment rate change

(2019-2022)

Per capita income

change compared to other cities

(2019-2022)

New homes per 100K

(2022)

New businesses per 100K

(2022)

Home value change

compared to other cities

(2019-2022)

Vacant housing %

(2022)

% with debt in collections

(2023)

Overall decline score

(higher means worse)

San Francisco, CA -8.29% 0.00% -3.0% 448.9 1,754.4 -72.8% 12.7% 11.0% 73.9
New Orleans, LA -5.23% -1.00% -47.4% 256.4 2,544.4 -28.6% 22.9% 40.0% 72.2
New York, NY -0.01% 1.20% -37.6% 222.5 1,934.6 -71.4% 8.3% 20.0% 72.0
Boston, MA -6.05% 0.80% -7.2% 577.8 1,771.5 -61.9% 7.7% 20.0% 70.6
Detroit, MI -7.41% 1.20% -75.1% 87.5 6,339.4 61.0% 21.9% 36.0% 67.6
Chicago, IL -1.07% 0.10% -36.2% 344.3 3,515.5 -58.4% 8.2% 27.0% 67.2
Anchorage, AK -0.30% -1.30% -12.7% 108.0 1,342.9 -72.3% 9.1% 18.0% 67.1
Portland, OR -3.00% 0.70% -25.8% 495.5 1,811.1 -30.6% 6.7% 17.0% 66.4
Honolulu, HI -0.48% -0.10% -4.9% 135.7 3,419.1 -50.7% 12.6% 15.0% 65.8
Baton Rouge, LA 0.55% -1.80% -51.1% 354.5 4,421.7 -56.6% 16.0% 39.0% 65.4
St. Louis, MO -4.66% -0.80% 11.3% 202.0 2,240.9 -27.5% 14.8% 42.0% 65.4
Corpus Christi, TX -3.17% -0.60% 16.0% 237.8 1,032.1 -32.4% 12.2% 46.0% 64.9
Baltimore, MD -3.97% -1.80% -33.6% 237.0 2,457.8 -21.2% 13.3% 41.0% 64.9
Pittsburgh, PA 0.87% 0.00% -40.4% 291.8 4,718.8 -25.7% 15.8% 21.0% 64.4
Washington, D.C. -4.81% -1.20% -1.2% 1,299.5 2,126.5 -67.1% 9.4% 22.0% 63.3
Wichita, KS 1.60% 0.50% -37.4% 465.9 1,581.6 -6.2% 11.5% 31.0% 63.1
Virginia Beach, VA 1.25% -0.70% -36.5% 133.2 1,841.9 -25.1% 6.0% 28.0% 62.3
Laredo, TX -2.40% -0.80% -3.5% 494.6 1,217.9 -35.7% 5.8% 51.0% 62.2
Los Angeles, CA -3.95% 1.40% -1.4% 479.3 4,210.2 -7.3% 7.1% 22.0% 62.2
St. Paul, MN -1.60% 0.40% 32.5% 226.9 2,106.0 -37.3% 6.2% 16.0% 61.9
Rochester, NY 1.78% 1.20% -19.8% 187.2 4,023.8 -6.3% 10.5% 21.0% 61.6
San Antonio, TX -4.80% 0.20% -26.5% 1,036.5 1,747.6 7.6% 9.0% 38.0% 61.3
Lubbock, TX 1.96% 3.00% 14.5% 981.7 1,350.4 -12.9% 8.2% 41.0% 61.2
San Jose, CA -4.95% 0.00% 8.9% 426.1 1,886.8 -6.6% 4.7% 11.0% 60.9
Minneapolis, MN -1.05% 0.20% 25.5% 675.1 4,486.8 -58.5% 8.0% 13.0% 60.5
Richmond, VA -0.45% 1.00% -24.5% 731.9 2,324.8 -0.3% 6.4% 34.0% 60.3
Norfolk, VA -4.02% -0.80% 22.1% 454.9 1,655.4 -16.4% 8.7% 45.0% 60.2
Milwaukee, WI -4.55% -0.30% 11.4% 163.9 3,198.8 8.9% 10.5% 33.0% 60.2
Louisville, KY 1.10% 0.30% 4.8% 523.8 1,934.8 -29.7% 6.8% 33.0% 60.2
Des Moines, IA -1.50% -1.50% -14.1% 351.6 3,046.4 -31.8% 7.1% 20.0% 60.1
Philadelphia, PA -1.06% -1.20% 5.4% 427.2 1,861.0 -30.3% 8.2% 35.0% 59.9
Lincoln, NE 1.22% -0.90% -36.3% 549.2 1,028.6 -14.7% 5.3% 17.0% 59.5
Fort Wayne, IN -0.92% -0.30% -12.6% 135.9 1,865.8 11.0% 7.2% 27.0% 59.4
Yonkers, NY 3.87% -0.70% -75.4% 175.9 7,243.9 -41.0% 3.0% 16.0% 59.0
Lexington, KY -0.87% 0.10% -1.7% 757.9 1,377.3 -8.9% 5.5% 28.0% 58.5
Tulsa, OK 2.66% -0.70% -59.0% 347.0 2,530.9 20.5% 9.6% 33.0% 57.9
Cincinnati, OH 1.83% -1.60% -48.4% 330.5 4,186.9 -7.8% 9.8% 29.0% 57.7
Houston, TX -0.75% 0.50% -8.5% 836.3 4,037.1 -1.8% 9.2% 37.0% 57.5
Oakland, CA -0.57% -0.10% 48.4% 596.9 4,406.2 -48.6% 8.4% 15.0% 57.4
El Paso, TX -0.63% 0.30% 24.3% 542.8 1,227.7 4.3% 7.5% 37.0% 57.2
Memphis, TN -4.61% -1.40% -19.7% 365.0 3,136.9 43.8% 12.4% 39.0% 56.7
Oxnard, CA -4.05% -1.80% 4.9% 194.6 3,804.6 -6.6% 5.4% 18.0% 56.7
Birmingham, AL -5.97% -1.00% -23.4% 536.3 6,157.1 52.7% 18.8% 36.0% 56.6
San Diego, CA -3.00% -0.20% 8.6% 299.2 2,920.4 20.3% 6.5% 20.0% 56.6
Columbus, OH 1.05% -0.20% -28.3% 569.6 2,684.0 18.5% 8.7% 31.0% 56.5
Fayetteville, NC -1.32% 0.50% 17.5% 343.7 2,921.9 21.5% 8.0% 37.0% 56.2
Madison, WI 5.09% 0.00% -27.0% 710.1 2,300.1 -22.8% 3.6% 12.0% 56.2
Winston-Salem, NC 1.37% 1.00% 20.4% 553.8 2,226.0 23.2% 12.2% 34.0% 56.1
Seattle, WA -0.59% -0.30% 33.5% 765.3 4,102.1 -33.8% 7.7% 13.0% 55.9
Bakersfield, CA 6.90% 1.60% -34.7% 453.2 1,848.1 21.4% 5.0% 31.0% 55.9
Stockton, CA 2.92% 0.40% -4.2% 294.6 2,483.4 15.0% 6.5% 25.0% 55.5
Omaha, NE 1.46% -1.40% -14.4% 432.4 1,652.7 -2.3% 5.3% 20.0% 55.4
Denver, CO -1.92% 0.70% 19.3% 1,417.6 2,926.5 -10.6% 7.3% 25.0% 55.4
Albuquerque, NM 0.09% -0.90% -8.4% 273.1 1,852.0 22.9% 5.7% 30.0% 54.9
Cleveland, OH -5.09% -2.20% 14.2% 462.1 6,163.9 8.9% 15.4% 31.0% 54.6
Kansas City, MO 2.82% -0.30% -5.8% 756.3 2,541.0 3.5% 8.9% 34.0% 54.4
Fremont, CA -7.15% 0.80% 25.8% 1,041.7 8,474.1 -8.4% 4.4% 15.0% 54.2
Dallas, TX -3.28% -0.60% 15.6% 712.8 4,363.0 10.6% 8.2% 41.0% 54.1
Chesapeake, VA 3.13% -0.90% 4.8% 579.0 1,608.0 -19.3% 2.3% 29.0% 53.9
Oklahoma City, OK 6.07% 0.10% -21.7% 1,062.5 2,152.4 -1.2% 9.2% 36.0% 53.7
Anaheim, CA -1.69% 0.10% -58.9% 258.4 13,099.3 0.6% 3.3% 18.0% 53.2
Tacoma, WA 1.81% 1.40% -3.7% 634.4 4,636.7 27.9% 6.1% 21.0% 53.2
Santa Ana, CA -7.26% -0.10% -2.5% 123.9 14,641.0 -3.5% 4.8% 18.0% 52.8
Modesto, CA 1.34% -1.50% -2.7% 222.9 1,967.7 14.3% 3.5% 25.0% 52.7
Atlanta, GA -1.52% -0.20% -34.2% 1,510.2 10,041.1 -23.5% 9.2% 31.0% 52.7
Greensboro, NC 1.48% -2.50% -46.0% 543.3 3,075.9 19.4% 7.8% 35.0% 52.6
Jersey City, NJ 9.38% 0.30% -1.2% 1,037.4 4,565.9 -55.5% 4.2% 23.0% 52.0
Tucson, AZ -0.27% -0.50% 13.2% 506.4 2,297.8 42.5% 8.6% 25.0% 51.8
Indianapolis, IN 0.48% -0.70% 17.3% 437.3 2,523.9 33.0% 8.6% 36.0% 51.7
Riverside, CA -3.20% 0.20% 30.4% 151.2 8,632.2 14.7% 5.6% 26.0% 51.6
Sacramento, CA 2.80% -0.60% -16.2% 588.3 4,488.4 13.7% 5.7% 22.0% 51.4
Toledo, OH -2.37% -3.60% 24.2% 299.7 2,119.0 9.8% 8.3% 34.0% 51.1
Aurora, CO 3.76% 0.10% -8.1% 901.3 3,766.4 4.2% 3.6% 24.0% 51.0
Plano, TX 0.65% -0.90% -38.9% 430.3 8,126.1 20.0% 5.0% 23.0% 50.5
Reno, NV 6.98% 1.20% -51.5% 1,910.1 3,085.0 20.9% 7.5% 27.0% 49.9
Fresno, CA 2.63% -0.30% 42.3% 762.7 1,723.2 11.0% 4.3% 28.0% 49.2
Colorado Springs, CO 1.68% -1.30% -17.0% 984.7 2,996.4 18.7% 3.1% 23.0% 49.1
Las Vegas, NV 0.76% -0.50% -9.9% 757.5 7,522.6 20.1% 7.4% 33.0% 49.0
Arlington, TX -1.07% -1.30% -35.5% 488.1 9,339.3 30.6% 6.7% 39.0% 48.9
Raleigh, NC 0.53% -1.20% 10.3% 1,054.8 4,650.8 31.7% 13.3% 23.0% 48.5
Buffalo, NY 8.31% -1.30% 10.3% 276.0 3,324.6 22.0% 11.9% 23.0% 47.9
Long Beach, CA -2.45% -0.10% 22.8% 193.7 35,657.5 -6.4% 5.7% 22.0% 47.5
Nashville, TN 1.91% -0.50% 5.0% 1,873.0 2,238.4 25.9% 8.6% 29.0% 46.8
Hialeah, FL -5.59% 1.00% 49.3% 547.5 58,057.0 6.9% 3.0% 27.0% 45.9
Charlotte, NC 1.36% -0.30% 16.9% 1,187.6 3,297.2 48.0% 6.9% 31.0% 45.8
Fort Worth, TX 5.18% -0.80% -19.8% 1,270.6 3,852.1 34.9% 7.6% 39.0% 45.7
Newark, NJ 8.27% -0.30% 34.7% 65.5 5,932.3 8.8% 4.7% 32.0% 45.4
Fontana, CA -0.97% 1.40% 5.5% 1,096.1 12,393.5 15.3% 1.6% 30.0% 45.3
St. Petersburg, FL -1.54% 0.40% 54.6% 512.1 9,950.0 63.3% 17.0% 28.0% 45.2
Jacksonville, FL 6.56% -0.60% -0.2% 1,168.7 2,626.9 41.5% 8.0% 38.0% 44.6
San Bernardino, CA 2.11% -1.00% -20.5% 103.0 11,951.7 33.0% 4.3% 30.0% 44.3
Phoenix, AZ -2.18% -0.10% 36.1% 703.4 5,066.0 79.3% 6.6% 26.0% 44.3
Spokane, WA 3.64% -2.10% 1.6% 186.0 2,987.9 60.7% 3.7% 18.0% 44.1
Grand Rapids, MI -2.04% -1.70% 129.0% 135.6 4,401.5 12.0% 4.9% 23.0% 43.8
Santa Clarita, CA 3.93% 1.00% -15.0% 841.7 72,703.2 4.4% 2.7% 22.0% 42.9
Durham, NC 4.64% -0.40% 38.4% 1,307.5 1,967.3 48.0% 7.4% 27.0% 42.5
Henderson, NV 3.51% -1.40% -81.8% 1,403.1 14,896.4 14.2% 7.2% 33.0% 41.9
Scottsdale, AZ -5.82% -0.30% 22.2% 906.0 34,274.8 69.5% 14.0% 26.0% 41.4
Irving, TX 6.22% -0.10% -17.5% 623.8 22,259.8 10.0% 5.7% 41.0% 40.8
Chula Vista, CA 1.70% -3.70% -53.7% 457.4 14,448.2 15.4% 4.7% 20.0% 40.3
Salt Lake City, UT 2.04% 0.00% 26.1% 1,285.1 11,328.2 29.2% 8.2% 21.0% 40.0
Garland, TX 0.39% -0.10% 16.0% 975.3 23,540.8 19.7% 5.7% 41.0% 39.9
Austin, TX -0.46% -0.40% 49.5% 1,531.9 3,181.3 75.0% 5.0% 28.0% 39.5
Irvine, CA 9.15% 0.70% -23.2% 1,435.5 14,384.5 1.6% 5.2% 18.0% 38.5
Mesa, AZ -1.06% -1.20% -1.6% 637.5 16,254.7 70.9% 11.4% 26.0% 38.3
Tampa, FL -0.38% 0.30% 72.6% 954.9 10,197.1 61.3% 9.4% 31.0% 38.3
Moreno Valley, CA -0.53% -0.80% 64.0% 148.6 13,065.5 35.4% 2.2% 26.0% 38.1
Boise City, ID 3.35% -2.60% 13.2% 829.6 3,791.1 79.3% 5.4% 17.0% 37.7
Miami, FL -3.94% 0.60% 135.6% 1,344.1 28,451.8 14.3% 12.5% 27.0% 36.7
Huntsville, AL 10.65% 0.30% 67.4% 1,555.9 2,745.9 45.9% 8.4% 28.0% 36.3
Port St. Lucie, FL 14.84% 1.40% -28.4% 2,384.5 3,682.2 66.9% 8.8% 30.0% 36.0
Orlando, FL 9.96% 0.60% -3.4% 1,315.8 15,410.6 24.0% 7.5% 33.0% 34.6
Glendale, AZ -0.10% -0.90% 13.8% 667.9 33,039.7 82.3% 5.7% 26.0% 33.7
North Las Vegas, NV 11.34% 2.80% 49.1% 1,552.7 17,597.7 27.1% 8.0% 33.0% 32.7
Chandler, AZ 7.48% -0.60% 11.7% 843.6 29,676.4 63.4% 5.6% 26.0% 30.3
Gilbert, AZ 8.36% -0.40% 28.0% 964.2 30,254.7 77.3% 2.9% 26.0% 25.9
Frisco, TX 9.53% -1.20% 60.1% 2,241.9 10,715.1 57.2% 3.5% 25.0% 21.8
Average 0.55% -0.30% 0.00% 669.1 7,496.0 7.30% 7.87% 27.73% 50.7

Expert insights

Alexandra Becker Sielaff, Ph.D., CPC

Director of the MBA Program, Associate Professor of Business
Carroll University

Aside from the cost of living, what factors generally influence people to want to relocate to another city?

The impact of the COVID era has vastly changed the way people are willing to work, the level of commitment they make to their commute and the expenditures they are required to make in a high-cost locale.

Urban sprawl contributes to an increasingly expensive and time-consuming commute, which has been well-managed in the post-COVID era through remote working arrangements and has even decoupled employees from working at or close to their workplace. State and municipal governments compete with others by providing tax incentives and by identifying a ready workforce to create an equally desirable location for people to stay or to relocate.

What makes a region/city attractive for new business? Tax benefits? The density of certain demographics?

Tax incentives and an available working population of a region or city attract businesses, as well as the strategic access to raw materials and the transportation networks that move products when the company is a manufacturer.

Service industries are also incentivized by a well-educated population and complementary businesses that provide opportunities for strategic partnerships. The attraction of a corporate headquarters office is especially advantageous to a region or city, since the pay and benefits generally exceed branches and subsidiaries of the company.

In most cases, new businesses benefit from a lower tax rate than mature companies, and state and local planners understand the importance of incentivizing new businesses to sustain a vibrant workforce and economic prosperity.

Do consumer debt or collection amounts affect a city's economy? How and why?

Consumer debt reduces the ability for debtors to make future payments into the economy through the purchase of more goods and services. This restricted spending reduces the demand of producers while consumers work to overcome their debt. In economic downturns, there is an increased risk that consumers cannot sustain their incomes to pay down their debt due to unemployment.

The strategic decisions employers make to sustain their businesses through downturns, if they are negatively impacted, add to a downward spending spiral, both by the employer and through the resultant impact on consumers.

Ron Cheung, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics, Department Chair of Economics
Oberlin College

Aside from cost of living, what factors cause mass migrations to other cities?

Job opportunities would certainly be at the top of the list for attracting residents to a city. The newest generations of college graduates are extremely mobile and would go where the jobs are. They are also very sensitive to urban amenities. This includes natural amenities (weather, scenery, greenery), infrastructure (easy commutes, public transportation), and cultural amenities (arts, restaurants, good schools).

What makes a region/city attractive for new business? Tax benefits? The density of certain demographics?

Every city is different, and different businesses need different types of workers. A manufacturing business may not need the same kinds of workers and skills as a, say, healthcare business.

I think that, in general, though, good infrastructure is one of the most attractive things a city can offer to new businesses. Having excellent road, rail, air, water, and — increasingly — telecommunication connections can really help a city stand out in comparison to others when they are vying for new businesses.

Do consumer debt or collection amounts affect a city's economy? How and why?

I'm not aware of any studies that have demonstrated a connection between consumer debt and a city's economy.

Giacomo Santangelo, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer of Economics
Fordham University

Aside from cost of living, what factors cause mass migrations to other cities?

Various factors beyond the cost of living significantly drive mass migrations to cities, and they are all based on the perceived potential for improvements in standards of living. These include the relative strength of regional job markets, quality of education, safety, improved quality of life, social networks, climate considerations, and political stability.

Cities with accessible healthcare, cultural diversity, and advanced technology are also seen to attract migrants. We also see migration “trends” based on well-developed transportation infrastructure, government policies, and responses to natural disasters.

What makes a region/city attractive for new business? Tax benefits? The density of certain demographics?

Several factors contribute to making a region or city relatively more attractive for new business, ranging from proximity to markets and a skilled workforce to “business-friendly” regulations, tax benefits, and access to capital markets. Competitive cost structures, quality of life, demographics, and access to innovation also play pivotal roles in shaping a region's appeal to new business. These factors are crucial for companies when choosing a location for their operations, as they can significantly impact their growth and success.

Do consumer debt or collection amounts affect a city's economy? How and why?

Consumer debt levels in a city may exert indirect but pronounced effects on its economy. “High” consumer debt may curtail spending, limit the availability of credit, diminish property values, and erode consumer confidence, adversely affecting economic growth. It may also put undue strain on the legal system, negatively affect small businesses, and increase the demand for social services, potentially compromising a city's financial stability and attractiveness to new businesses and possibly driving old businesses out.

Kathrine Richardson, Ph.D.

Professor, Geography and Urban & Regional Planning
San José State University

Aside from cost of living, what factors cause mass migrations to other cities?

Within North America, what has spurred probably our greatest numbers of mass migrations of people to other cities over the past century is employment and job opportunities.

For example, in the state of Washington in the 1930s, there was the beginning of the efforts of the damming of the Columbia River. That led to a lot of migration of people from the Dust Bowl up into the state of California, [and] also into the state of Washington to work on those damming efforts.

And then, unfortunately, World War two broke out in Europe. That then led to a war effort driven by the US government with the manufacturing of shipbuilding and airplanes in the Seattle area. And then also on the West Coast with San Francisco, Sausalito, and Los Angeles. So you saw people migrating from the central plains of the United States to these particular West Coast cities with the goal of attaining employment.

What makes a region/city attractive for new business? Tax benefits? The density of certain demographics?

What makes a city attractive for new businesses varies on what type of business you're talking about. But at the end of the day, any new business's lifeblood for growth is access to skills and the talent that a particular firm or business needs. The notion of what those skills and talents are can vary greatly from one firm to another.

For example, a firm looking to develop and produce a film is most likely going to want to locate somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area since there's already an existing film industry cluster and a supporting agglomeration economy.

Do consumer debt or collection amounts affect a city's economy? How and why?

Rising consumer debt and student loan debt, coupled with just the rising cost of living, has gone up by about 20-25% in the last 2 or 3 years. Then factor in the cost of housing, which has gone up astronomically, especially in cities where there's a big demand for high-skilled workers. This is usually in West Coast cities where the housing stock is newer.

Any time you have newer housing stock, usually rents are higher. As opposed [to an area like] Montreal, which has an older supply of housing, and therefore rental prices are not nearly as high. It's a little counterintuitive, but anytime you start building new housing, the costs go up.

Also, if you consider younger generations who may have a lot of debt, whether consumer or educational, coupled with the fact that the price of housing has gone up, they really don't have a lot of, if any, disposable income to spend on restaurants and entertainment. This can possibly lead to less activity around the features of what makes a city or an urban area vibrant and attractive.

Responses have been slightly edited for clarity and concision.

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Methodology

FinanceBuzz collected data on every U.S. city with a population in excess of 200,000 in 2019 (117 total cities).

Factors were compared against each other using a dynamic formula that assigned each city a score of 0 to 5 relative to every other city. Those factor scores were then weighted to assign each city a final value out of 100, with higher scores indicating cities that are in greater decline.

For each factor, a weight of 2.5 serves as the baseline. Weights above 2.5 had a larger impact on a city's total score, and weights below 2.5 had a lesser impact. The weights and sources for the individual metrics used are as follows:

  • Population change (2019 to 2022): U.S. Census — 3.25 weight
  • Unemployment rate change (2019 to 2022): U.S. Census — 2.5 weight
  • Per capita income increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022): U.S. Census — 3.25 weight
  • New homes per 100,000 people: U.S. Census — 2.0 weight
  • New businesses per 100,000 people: U.S. Census — 2.5 weight
  • Percentage of homes that are vacant: U.S. Census — 1.50 weight
  • Home value increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022): Zillow — 3.25 weight
  • Percentage of residents with debt in collections: Urban Institute — 1.75 weight

Author Details

Josh Koebert

Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.