From Boomburb to Crashtown: Lang and Lefurgy

The Beeb features this story on Bend, Oregon:

The population of Bend quadrupled in under 20 years – from 20,000 to 80,000.

Between 2001 and 2005, the median value of a home in Bend rose by 80%.

By 2005, work was getting underway on 700 new homes each month. Some of the developments are stunning: houses filled with mountain light clinging to craggy hillsides.

Only now:

Downtown Bend looks like a shrine to post-millenial bijou: pricey shoes, scented candles, fancy coffee. There is even a shop specialising in beachwear – despite Bend’s location in the high desert.

But when the US slumped, Bend crashed. The value of a home fell 40% in under two years.

And unemployment nearly quadrupled from around 4% two years ago to 15% in the summer of 2009.

“Everything that Bend produced relied on the credit market”, says Carolyn Eagan, an economist with the Oregon Department of Employment.

My former colleagues at Virginia Tech, Rob Lang and Jennifer Lefurgy, examined the Boomburg phenomenon in their excellent book: Boomburbs: The Rise of America’s Accidental Cities.