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Americans are fleeing high-cost metros. But there's more to the story than housing prices, says CityLab editor Richard Florida.

Florida says America’s geography continues to be reshaped by a polarized pattern of socioeconomic sorting. The population shift has drawn the most affluent, the best-educated, and the young to expensive coastal metros like the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, and the New York–Boston–Washington corridor, with the less affluent and less educated flowing into cheaper Sunbelt metros, and the even less advantaged trapped in Rust Belt areas.

Expensive metros like San Francisco, L.A., New York, San Diego, D.C., Seattle, and Boston are at the top right, which means the people moving into these places are considerably more affluent than those moving out. People moving into San Francisco, for example, out-earn those moving out by an average of $12,640. In New York, L.A., and Miami, the difference is roughly $10,000. Phoenix, Denver, and Washington, D.C., are in the next rung, with a difference of around $5,000.

When it comes to income sorting, fast-growing, less expensive Sunbelt metros such as Dallas, Orlando, and Las Vegas are a wash—those moving in and out have roughly similar incomes. But the Rust Belt metros of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit fall victim to “negative income sorting”; that is, the median household that moves in earns less than the median household moving out. The more expensive the housing, the higher the income of those moving in, compared to those moving out.

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