These States Are Bringing In More Residents Than They're Losing - ISS Relocations

These States Are Gaining More Residents Than They’re Losing

All of them are attracting more U.S. residents than they are losing.

Broader data indicates that Americans are increasingly relocating between states, a phenomenon experts attribute to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upward trend in migration is evident in the recently released 2022 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, an annual report offering detailed population estimates. According to the bureau, around 2.5% of Americans lived in a different state in 2022 than they did the previous year – a slight increase from 2021 and a notable rise compared to 2018 and 2019 when the rate was approximately 2.3%.

In total, approximately 8.2 million people moved between states in 2022, as per the bureau’s analysis.

“It’s definitely an increase from before the pandemic,” says Riordan Frost, a senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. “In the past decade, interstate migration seemed to kind of plateau a little bit. And then during the pandemic, it has increased, even as mobility overall has continued to go down.”

However, net migration rates varied among states. U.S. News calculated each state’s net migration rate by comparing the number of people who moved between states in 2022, determining the difference between those moving in and out as a percentage of the state’s total population aged 1 and older. A positive number indicates more people moved into the state than out, while a negative number means more people moved out than in.

Connecticut claimed the highest net rate at 1.58%, followed by South Carolina, Delaware, Florida, and Arizona, the only other states with rates exceeding 1.0%. The states with the largest net migration totals were Florida (249,064), Texas (174,261), and North Carolina (82,160).

Top 10 States with the Highest Net Migration Rates:

  1. Connecticut
  2. South Carolina
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida
  5. Arizona
  6. Idaho
  7. Montana
  8. Oklahoma
  9. North Dakota
  10. North Carolina

The presence of several warm states, such as Florida and Arizona, at the top of the list aligns with their traditional status as retirement destinations, according to experts. However, Connecticut’s high placement surprised demographers, with a significant influx from nearby New York.

“Connecticut is gaining a huge bonus from the remote work and the pandemic flight from New York City,” says Dowell Myers, a professor and director of the Population Dynamics Research Group at the University of Southern California.

William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, notes that Connecticut’s net migration totals were negative annually until 2021 and 2022, marking a change linked to the “exurbanization” of New Yorkers.

While the migratory effects of COVID-19 are not exclusive to the tri-state area, Frey highlights substantial changes in migration patterns throughout the country since the pandemic. He attributes this to a revival in the economy, particularly with young people being more capable of moving to new places.

“I think a lot of that has to do with kind of a revival in the economy, and especially young people being more able to move out to new places,” Frey says. He points to his analysis of responses to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey covering March 2022 to March 2023, revealing that 43% of those surveyed tied their interstate moves to “job and labor market reasons,” up from about 37% the year prior.

Frost notes the importance of considering that not everyone has the ability to move during the pandemic.

“It’s kind of, as with many things, the tale of two Americas,” Frost says. “The people who are able to move during the pandemic did move, and then maybe moved out of state and were able to kind of reshuffle more according to their desires, or more according to the new norm, whatever it may be, that they’ve experienced with the pandemic. Whereas people who weren’t able to do that, kind of stayed put.”

While predicting the long-term continuation of the observed increase in interstate moves in 2022 is challenging, Katherine Curtis, a professor of community and environmental sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, emphasizes that the broader conversation around migration is “never ho-hum.”

“Migration is always happening, especially in the United States,” she says. “We’re a highly industrialized, well-developed nation. And so a lot of our population change actually occurs through migration.”

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