While migration fell off during the recession in Sun Belt metro areas, Brookings' William H. Frey writes that people are returning to cities in the nation’s South and West.
In the early 2000s, migration swelled in many of them, only to fall off during the recession and years immediately thereafter. But census population estimates through July 2015, released last week, make plain that the Sun Belt metro migration lull has not only subsided, as was hinted at last year, but could be on a pace for substantial gains in metropolitan areas in the Southeast, Texas, and Mountain West for the remainder of the decade.
The new data show that 52 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas experienced domestic in-migration in 2014–2015, of which 46 are located in the South and West region (exceptions being Kansas City and Omaha, as well as the state capitals Columbus, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Omaha, and Harrisburg, Penn.).
As the Sun Belt gains residents, high-cost areas are losing them.
The flip side of greater gains for Sun Belt metro areas are increased flows out of more costly or less economically vibrant areas, largely in the Northeast and Midwest. Among the 15 areas with the greatest migration losses in 2014–15, 13 lost more migrants than in each of the previous two years. The greatest migration losses were shown for metropolitan New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. For them, as with most of these areas, migration outflows abated somewhat during the recession and post-recession years, but are now picking up again.