Americans Still Moving to the Sun Belt

The Joads — they’d head to Texas today.

State-to-state migration within the United States has slowed dramatically since the 2000s, but foot-loose Americans are still moving to sprawling Sun Belt cities, maintains urban geographer Joel Kotkin in the New Geography blog. Drawing upon 2010-2011 data, he writes: “The weak recovery has slowed migration, but expensive, overregulated and dense metropolitan areas continue to lose population to lower-cost, less regulated and generally less dense regions.”

The big winner? Texas. Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio all ranked among the top 10 recipients of internal migrants. Also on the list of big gainers: Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The big losers? New York, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco-Oakland.

How do Virginia regions stack up in terms of net in-migration? Among the 51 largest metro areas in the United States:

6. Washington/Arlington/Alexandria
Net inflow: 21,517 (3.8 per 1,000 residents)

27. Richmond
Net inflow: 1,546 (1.22 per 1,000 residents)

43. Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News
Net inflow: -7,086 (-4.22 per 1,000 residents)

This data confirms the picture  we’re seeing from innumerable other data sources. Washington has one of the more dynamic regional economies in the country. Richmond is treading water, roughly in line with national averages. And Hampton Roads is losing ground.

Kotkin’s argument that Americans are moving to Sun Belt metropolitan regions is not inconsistent (as he seems to think it is) with the observation that the center of gravity of growth within regions is shifting closer to the urban core. Both trends are happening.

– JAB

3 Responses to Americans Still Moving to the Sun Belt

  1. well.. looking at the full list engenders questions in my mind – like Pittsburg and several places in California – and Seattle.

    mixed bag is what I get out of it.

  2. The top 5 gainers are cities in states with no state income tax.

  3. here’s the states without:

    Alaska
    Florida
    Nevada
    South Dakota
    Texas
    Washington
    Wyoming

    You’d think Nevada and Wyoming and maybe even oil boom South Dakota would be on the map, eh?

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