Interactive graphic of migration within US

Chris Walker created a fascinating interactive graphic of migration patterns within the United States. It's based on US Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey estimates. Here are a few insights that Walker gleaned:

• First, there are more people leaving California than there are arriving there. 566,986 people left the Golden State in 2012, for states like Texas, Nevada, Washington, and Arizona, presumably for the lower cost of living.

• New York also shows more people leaving than arriving. The most popular destination for New Yorkers is Florida. My hunch is that these are retirees. The next most popular destinations are New Jersey and Pennsylvania. More likely these folks are leaving pricey New York City for more affordable suburbs in neighboring states.

• Migrants are flocking to Florida. Interestingly the state contributing the most migrants to Florida is neighboring Georgia. Texas, New York, and North Carolina are the next largest contributors.

"Restless America: state-to-state migration in 2012" (Thanks, David Steinberg!)

Notable Replies

  1. Aetius says:

    It's not only the high cost of living that is driving people out of California -that's just a symptom. California is well into the middle of the process that created the Rust Belt desolation, and the symptoms are starting to appear - declining population, industries that are moving elsewhere due to high taxes and relentlessly increasing regulation, and a top-heavy, ideologically rigid, insufferably know-it-all state government riddled with corruption and cronyism. You need only look at the current bullet train project to understand the amazing levels of dysfunction in California.

  2. Out of curiosity, I decided to look up California's population: it had around 5 million people in the late 1920s and around 10 million in the late 1940s.

  3. Bear in mind, this is internal migration. It doesn't include births, deaths (which tends to offset internal immigration to Sun Belt states), or immigration (which is significant in gateway states like New York and California). It's incorrect to make generalizations from this graph about net population changes in any of these states; this is all much narrower than that. This is also about more than just migration for job hunting; it's also college education (including graduate study and professional school) and retirement.

  4. hhype says:

    I see that the creator of the chart was trying to make these flows more visual, but it is a definitely flawed and misleading view. A view where the lines indicated inflows and outflows would make more sense. Only by hovering can you see whether a line is inflow or outflow if the migrants remain in the same region. The 10,000 cutoff really marginalizes the flows for my favorite smaller population states (poor little Delaware).

    The Census Bureau made an actual map where you can click and see flows country by county. That map also includes migration from abroad, but I am not sure it includes emigration out of the country (because how do you count those people, they left the counting area).

    Of course an actual map is more physically based and less designed, and the assumptions made in its creation are less damaging than for the circle chart, while the circle chart looks prettier, perhaps.

  5. Yeah, but if that was all there was to it, people would have been leaving CA in droves decades ago. That 10-year bust cycle you have in real estate there doesn't happen everywhere else - which made it happening on a national scale a major shock to a whole lot of people. Every time the defense contracts get blown out, a whole lot of people who had been playing the real estate pyramid game there get blown out with it - and it involves enough people to give whole housing market big kick in the shins.

    You say TX is 'cheaper' - and that is true in general, but it's always been true (in general) . The parts of CA nobody wants to live in are just about exactly like the parts of TX nobody wants to live in - desert. And a whole lot of it in CA was just desert, too, until it was irrigated and built out. As a kid, we could hang out in the orange groves on ou way home from school. Groves? Gone. On the weekends, you could maybe go out to the river. The amount of time it takes you to leave the populated areas is way, wayyyy longer than it was back then. Fontana was still bikers (and Frank Zappa), Moreno Valley was barely a place at all, Mission Viejo and Laguna Near Hell didn't even exist - they were still part of those old rancho lands. If you told somebody Sonny Bono was gonna be mayor of Palm Springs some day, they'd have fallen over laughing. So - no. That argument doesn't wash over the long haul.

    I suspect that like many who live in CA (and I was the same, for a long time) feel like they're at the center of the freakin' universe, and everywhere else is some kind of lesser existence. It's just not so. That illusion is firmly planted in CA. TX is different - yes. But there are people there who have that same illusion about where they are.

    TX doesn't need a fat income tax, because it taxes the oil business instead. FLuh doesn't need one, because they'll charge you a fee just for breathing near any county or state office. GA does - but then, property taxes are often less than you'd spend on your car registration this year in CA.

    In the end? It's all relatively...relative, and so's the data.

Continue the discussion

13 more replies