While the aging baby boom generation continues to dominate discussions of demographic changes in the United States, new population shifts are emerging with young families, in terms of where they are choosing to live and raise children.

According to demographer William Frey with the Brookings Institution public policy research center, there is a “growing divide” between parts of the country experiencing gains and losses in children under age 15. During the decade of the 2000s, the number of children declined in more than one-third of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, primarily in the Northeast and upper Midwest, from Albany, New York, over to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a new “baby” boom has occurred in the Southeast and in western mountain states such as Utah and Idaho.

The number of children aged 15 or younger increased by 25 percent or more in ten metropolitan areas across the South and Mountain West, led by Provo, Utah (south of Salt Lake City), and Raleigh, North Carolina, each gaining nearly 50 percent more children. These gains resulted primarily from increases in births and migration, and they reflect an emerging attractiveness of western and south-central states outside the traditional Sunbelt. Double-digit growth rates in the number of children also occurred in such metro areas as Denver, Salt Lake City, and Oklahoma City from 2000 to 2010.

The implication for ULI members is that hot spots for single-family housing construction may develop in these metros with growing numbers of children, especially for the move-up market as families expand. Also, these metropolitan areas may face growing infrastructure and commercial construction needs, from new schools to family-oriented retail.

Below is the list of top ten metro areas that gained the most kids from 2000 to 2010:

 

Rank

Metro Area

2000–2010 % Increase in Kids Aged Under 15

1

Provo, UT

48%

2

Raleigh, NC

45%

3

Fort Myers/Cape Coral, FL

39%

4

Austin, TX

38%

5

Las Vegas, NV

36%

6t

McAllen, TX

33%

6t

Charlotte, NC

33%

8

Boise, ID

31%

9t

Ogden, UT

25%

9t

Phoenix, AZ

25%

Source: Brookings Institution.