Jul 16, 2019

There are more opioid overdoses in the suburbs than ever

Data: CDC Wonder; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

We tend to talk a lot about how the opioid epidemic has ravaged small towns and rural areas. And it certainly has done that. But over the past few years, the crisis has hit harder in big cities, and hardest in those big cities' suburbs.

Between the lines: Toward the beginning of the epidemic, when prescription painkillers were the primary driver of overdose deaths, the death rate was higher in rural areas than in cities or suburbs.

  • Suburbs now have the highest death rate, and have seen a bigger increase over time than big cities, small cities or rural areas.
  • Deaths in cities and suburbs began to surpass rural areas around 2013 — the same timeframe in which synthetic opioids like fentanyl started killing more people than heroin or prescription drugs.

Go deeper: The opioid epidemic is a global issue

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Drug overdose deaths spike in urban America

Reproduced from NCHS; Chart: Axios Visuals

For years, death rates from drug overdoses surged in rural America. But now, overdose death rates are rising faster in cities, according to a newly released data analysis from the Centers for Disease Control.

What's happening: The opioid crisis has devastated many rural areas while heroin deaths are climbing in urban centers.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

The new cities to watch

Data: McKinsey Global Institute; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The triumph of rich cities may hog the demographic headlines, but midsize cities' turnaround struggles under the shadow of automation will shape the urban future in the U.S., according to the author of a new McKinsey Global Institute report.

Why it matters: While 2 dozen high-performing cities are poised to pull further ahead of the rest of America, the cities to watch are those in between the mega-cities and the low-growth rural areas — the places McKinsey calls "niche cities" and the "mixed middle," according to report author Susan Lund.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019

Faster internet is coming, but only for a few

Data: FCC; Note: Non-mobile broadband speeds are 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload, Mobile LTE are 10 Mbps/3 Mbps; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Broadband technologies are getting better and faster — but access to them is still concentrated in metro areas and suburbs, leaving vast swaths of the country with marginal service or nothing at all.

Why it matters: Benefits of the broadband advances are mostly going to consumers who already have plenty of options for robust internet connections. Despite efforts to narrow the digital divide, rural areas, small towns and low-income neighborhoods in big cities still struggle to have access to reliable and affordable broadband service.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019