Some American cities have enjoyed a revival during the past two decades, with urban centers like New York City attracting new residents and businesses.
Yet rather than enjoying the success stories of big cities such as San Francisco, a dozen metropolitan areas are suffering population losses, according to recent Census Bureau data tracking the population of the country's 53 biggest major metropolitan areas. Many of these shrinking cities are former industrial powerhouses that have lost their footing amid the decline of America's manufacturing power.
A shrinking population creates a host of headaches, including a smaller tax base and a weaker economic engine. Many Rust Belt cities have been losing residents for decades, which adds to the difficulties in weathering globalization and a shift to service-based industries. Because some federal contributions are based on population size, these cities can suffer a double whammy from smaller appropriations.
Shrinking cities can end up in a negative feedback loop. Since a smaller tax base can lead to higher taxes on the remaining residents, some may grow frustrated and depart for the suburbs or cheaper cities. That then puts more pressure on city leaders to raise taxes on the remaining residents, keeping the cycle going.
That's one of the problems facing Chicago, the biggest city in Illinois, a state that lost more residents than any other last year. Illinois' financial crunch has prompted some observers to suggest it could be the first state to file for bankruptcy protection.
"llinois has the second-highest property taxes in the U.S.," said the conservative-leaning Illinois Policy Institute in a statement. Last week, "Republican state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner -- who campaigned on the premise of lowering taxes -- proposed raising the state income tax by $5 billion a year, as well as implementing a variety of other tax increases or new taxes that would cost every Illinois household $1,125 a year in higher taxes."
Large sections of the industrial heart of America shifted toward the Republican Party in the 2016 election, a first since Ronald Reagan. Some voters in those regions are pinning their hopes on President Donald Trump's promises to revive manufacturing and job growth.
Erie, Pennsylvania, is too small to be counted among the country's biggest metropolitan areas, but it too has suffered from some similar ailments. Decades of decline in American manufacturing have left this city as a shell of the thriving city it was during the 1950s, prompting one resident to tell CBS News, "Erie is definitely a sinking ship, and you'd be crazy not to get off a ship that's sinking."
On the flip side, 18 cities among the country's 53 major metropolitan areas have growth that's leapfrogging over the suburbs, including New York and San Francisco.
And Americans are increasingly moving to Sunbelt cities. The metropolitan area with the fastest growth from 2015 to 2016 was the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, region, whose population expanded 2.5 percent to 2.44 million. The data is from the Brookings Institution's analysis of Census data from July 2015 to 2016.