Net Internal Migration

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That's the term the Census Bureau uses to describe the net number of people leaving or moving into a state or county; the other components of population increase/decrease are natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and international migration. The net internal migration in the entire country is, by definition, zero. I took a look the other day at the internal migration in counties and found that internal immigration and outmigration in the period 2000-05 is staggering. In 24 counties, there was a net immigration of more than 50,000. In 33 counties, there was a net outmigration of more than 50,000.

Here are the counties with net immigration of more than 50,000; for those whose knowledge of counties is unaccountably limited, I've added the names of the county seat or major city and the major metropolitan area of which it is a part:

Riverside, Calif. Riverside Los Angeles 292,038
Maricopa, Ariz. Phoenix Phoenix 259,869
Clark, Nev. Las Vegas Las Vegas 219,112
San Bernardino, Calif. San Bernardino Los Angeles 120,496
Collin, Tex. Plano Dallas 110,837
Will, Ill. Joliet Chicago 104,017
Lee, Fla. Fort Myers 93,478
Palm Beach, Fla. West Palm Beach West Palm Beach 90,812
Pasco, Fla. New Port Richey Tampa 88,650
Denton, Tex. Denton Dallas 79,129
Hillsborough, Fla. Tampa Tampa 73,325
Lake, Fla. Taveras Orlando 67,772
Montgomery, Tex. Conroe Houston 63,936
Williamson, Tex. Round Rock Austin 61,219
Loudoun, Va. Leesburg Washington 63,686
Gwinnett, Ga. Lawrenceville Atlanta 59,847
Wake, N.C. Raleigh Raleigh 54,604
Douglas, Colo. Castle Rock Denver 54,598
San Joaquin, Calif. Stockton 54,651
Brevard, Fla. Melbourne 54,150
Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento Sacramento 51,010
Orange, Fla. Orlando Orlando 50,400

Note that most of these counties are exurban in character, at the edge of large metropolitan areas. The exceptions tend to prove the rule: Most of Maricopa Ariz., Clark Nev., Palm Beach Fla., Hillsborough Fla., Wake N.C., Sacramento , and Orange Fla. are exurban in character. The internal migration flow out from the central-city counties to exurban counties is immense.

Politically, 21 of these 24 counties voted for George W. Bush in 2004. The exceptions were two historically Democratic counties–Clark Nev. (where Bush lost 52 to 47 percent) and Sacramento (where Bush lost by only 1,118 votes)–and Orange Fla. (where he lost by 812 votes). The Bush percentages ranged up to 78 percent in Montgomery Texas.

Which counties had the biggest net internal outmigration? You won't be surprised to learn that most are big central-city counties; the five counties that make up New York City had a net internal outmigration of 808,562. Here are the leaders:

Los Angeles, Calif. Los Angeles Los Angeles 562,351
Cook, Ill. Chicago Chicago 500,099
Kings, N.Y. Brooklyn New York 291,748
Queens, N.Y. Queens New York 283,573
Dallas, Tex. Dallas Dallas 207,389
Santa Clara, Calif. San Jose San Francisco 201,499
Miami-Dade, Fla. Miami Miami 168,493
Wayne, Mich. Detroit Detroit 147,344
Orange, Calif. Santa Ana Los Angeles 141,363
Alameda, Calif. Oakland San Francisco 132,607
Harris, Tex. Houston Houston 122,915
Bronx, N.Y. Bronx New York 119,310
Philadelphia, Pa. Philadelphia Philadelphia 113,844
New York, N.Y. Manhattan Austin 112,677
Suffolk, Mass. Boston Boston 102,023
San Diego, Calif. San Diego San Diego 97,536
Middlesex, Mass. Cambridge Boston 96,279
San Francisco, Calif. San Francisco San Francisco 91,409
Cuyahoga, Ohio Cleveland Cleveland 87,532
Hudson, N.J. Jersey City New York 76,172
Hennepin, Minn. Minneapolis Minneapolis 76,048
San Mateo Calif. San Mateo San Francisco 72,802
Fairfax, Va. Fairfax Washington 71,865
King, Wash. Seattle Seattle 66,789
Hamilton, Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati 65,516
Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee Milwaukee 65,081
DeKalb, Ga. Decatur Atlanta 64,393
Denver, Colo. Denver Denver 63,668
Fulton, Ga. Atlanta Atlanta 62,914
Essex, N.J. Newark New York 61,223
Baltimore City, Md. Baltimore Baltimore 55,893
Washington D.C. Washington Washington 53,550
Nassau, N.Y. Hempstead New York 51,544

What surprised me about this list is how many Sun Belt counties made it and how high up they ranked. Santa Clara Calif. and Orange Calif. were some of the nation's fastest growing counties from 1950 to 1990; now they have significant outmigration. In contrast, the internal outmigration from old industrial counties was less high up on the list than I would have guessed. What seems to be happening is that high immigration is pushing nonimmigrant residents out in greater numbers than industrial decline.

By the way, so much for Richard Florida's theory that "creative cities" are growth magnets. As you can see from the above, net internal migration is out of rather than into such creative cities as Manhattan, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver.

Politically, 31 of these 33 counties (and county equivalents) voted for John Kerry in 2004, with the exceptions of still Republican-leaning Orange Calif. (60 to 39 percent for Bush, and he seems to have carried the Hispanic vote there) and historically Republican Hamilton Ohio (53 to 47 percent for George W. Bush).

Now let's look at metropolitan areas as a whole. The Census figures here are in most cases for the larger definitions of metro areas, but they keep treating San Francisco and San Jose, and Los Angeles and Riverside as separate areas. I've lumped them together in the rankings. Here the balance is toward net internal migration, with 18 metro areas having net internal immigration of more than 50,000 and only eight metro areas having net internal outmigration of similar magnitude.

Start with immigration:

Phoenix, Ariz. 301,150
Las Vegas, Nev. 219,112
Tampa, Fla. 201,715
Atlanta, Ga. 185,603
Orlando, Fla. 178,083
Sacramento, Calif. 129,400
Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex. 100,167
Charlotte, N.C./S.C. 95,652
Fort Myers, Fla. 93,478
Sarasota, Fla. 82,567
Jacksonville, Fla. 82,264
Raleigh, N.C. 75,765
Austin, Tex. 74,882
San Antonio, Tex. 66,334
Houston, Tex. 62,875
Fort Pierce, Fla. 59,489
Stockton, Calif. 54,561
Melbourne, Fla. 54,150

Note that just five metro areas have a net immigration approximating 200,000 or more: Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa, Atlanta, and Orlando. These are America's real boom towns these days. Note the small Florida metro areas that make the list–Fort Myers, Sarasota, Fort Pierce, Melbourne. I think it's a mistake to regard this immigration as entirely a matter of retirees. The Florida economy is booming, unemployment is very low and I think some of this represents private sector growth nurtured by the man I regard as the nation's best governor over the past dozen years, Jeb Bush. The Florida metro areas on this list have a total net immigration of 751,746; the Texas metro areas are second, with 304,258, just ahead of Maricopa Ariz.

Who are the net outmigration losers? It's a pretty concentrated list:

New York, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 1,151,338
San Francisco, Calif. 506,241
Chicago, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. 342,664
Los Angeles, Calif. 291,180
Boston, Ma.-N.H. 223,017
Detroit, Mich. 146,170
San Diego, Calif. 97,536
Philadelphia, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. 51,888

The nation's four largest metro areas are at the top of the list, though not in order of population. The tech bust of 2000 obviously accounts for much of metro San Francisco's outmigration, but this is probably not the whole story. These are metro areas with high immigration and high housing prices, and they're both combining to squeeze previous residents out. Those same factors are operating in Boston and San Diego. Only one old industrial metro area has substantial outmigration, my home metro area of Detroit; Philadelphia barely makes the list, with outmigration orders of magnitude less.

As I wrote this, I thought it would be useful to add the international migration figures to the table as well. So here goes:

New York, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 1,151,338 865,533
San Francisco, Calif. 506,241 327,724
Chicago, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. 342,664 306,954
Los Angeles, Calif. 291,180 726,174
Boston, Ma.-N.H. 223,017 132,759
Detroit, Mich. 146,170 72,285
San Diego, Calif. 97,536 91,725
Philadelphia, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. 51,888 75,799

Only Los Angeles and, at much lower levels, Philadelphia have more international migration than net internal outmigration; San Diego comes very close.

Let's see how the net internal immigration metro areas do on this score:

Phoenix, Ariz. 301,150 134,412
Las Vegas, Nev. 219,112 52,899
Tampa, Fla. 201,715 47,022
Atlanta, Ga. 185,603 144,564
Orlando, Fla. 178,083 50,685
Sacramento, Calif. 129,400 50,732
Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex. 100,167 232,235
Charlotte, N.C./S.C. 95,652 33,849
Fort Myers, Fla. 93,478 10,075
Sarasota, Fla. 82,567 10,701
Jacksonville, Fla. 82,264 11,541
Raleigh, N.C. 75,765 27,150
Austin, Tex. 74,882 47,204
San Antonio, Tex. 66,334 27,063
Houston, Tex. 62,875 210,440
Fort Pierce, Fla. 59,489 5,065
Stockton, Calif. 54,561 17,183
Melbourne, Fla. 54,150 3,855

Only in the two large Texas metro areas, Dallas and Houston, does international migration exceed net internal migration. There's much less international migration in Austin and San Antonio, though they're closer to the Texas border.