Wednesday, August 09, 2006
A Tale of Migration and Mobility
Don't believe the hype. That applies to this blog as well. I'm assuming that as the Knowledge Economy develops, labor mobility will increase. International labor mobility may be increasing, but trends within the United States are less clear. The graph to the right indicates that the percentage of Americans on the move has been in steady decline over the past 50 years.
My sense is that migration stories tend to be sensationalized. Immigration issues make an excellent lightening rod, or a fine dish of red herring. Concerning Pittsburgh, the shrill is that everyone is leaving. The region is leaking people and we have to figure out a way to patch the holes.
The more I look at the data, the less evidence of outmigration I find. The 2000 US Census describes mobility in terms of current state of residence and state of birth. The three states with the least number (as a percentage of total population) of natives in 2000 were Nevada (21.3%), Florida (32.7%), and Arizona (34.7%). The states with greatest number of natives were Louisiana (79.4%), Pennsylvania (77.7%), and Michigan (75.4%).
I speculated that Colorado natives were becoming an endangered species. Colorado had the 6th least amount of natives (41.1%). What this describes is significant inmigration, something Pennsylvania clearly lacks. We already know that Pennsylvanians are some of the least likely to leave. Couple that with the relatively few newcomers and you might understand the perception that Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania are increasingly parochial.
Another way to understand the findings is to view Pennsylvania as relatively inert.