"Population does not necessarily equal economic growth anymore," says Bill Fulton, vice president for policies and programs at Smart Growth America, a coalition of environmentalists, planners and others working to slow sprawl.

He points to Las Vegas' population boom, which created low-paying jobs that disappeared when the housing market collapsed. By contrast, he says, cities such as Pittsburgh lost population but household wealth went up.

"We're still talking about adding a lot of people," Fulton says. "We know we can't environmentally sustain those people living in sprawled locations. … Local governments are not going to be able to afford sprawl anymore."

By Haya El Nasser -- USA TODAY

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Illegal Immigration

Updated: Fri, Feb 24th 2012 @ 12:34pm EST