In recent years, increased scholarly attention has been paid to the fall-out from the 2008 subprime lending debacle, a national collapse of the housing market that resulted in massive foreclosures and widespread housing vacancy throughout the United States. In this chapter, we seek to understand the physical impacts of economic contraction on housing occupancy patterns before and after the Great Recession. Additionally, we ask whether or not different census-defined density-determined regions – urbanized areas, metropolitan statistical areas, and rural areas – were affected uniformly during economic contraction.

We answer these questions by exploring household residential delivery data acquired from the U.S. Postal Service for February of 2000, 2006, and 2011. We conclude by reflecting on the role of planning and policy in confronting the decline of suburbs.