Saturday, April 03, 2010

Migration Tales

The morning survey of news items yielded a find that inspired me to revisit all the recent articles I've collected about migration. Albeit pre-Great Recession, deconstructing the rush to Atlanta:

This week the Atlanta Regional Commission released one of its periodic Regional Snapshots -- the topic was "Domestic Migration: Who's Moving In and Where Are They Coming From?" The snapshot looked at the 20-county greater metro area that includes Coweta County from 2000 through 2007. The source of the report was IRS tax records. That makes the report somewhat skewed because everyone does not file a tax return, but the report is a good indicator of where people are coming and going.

The first revelation is that most moves are local. In fact, 52.1 percent of the people on the move in metro Atlanta moved from one of the 20 counties within the region. Slightly more than 37 percent of those moving to the region came from a different state. And 7.5 percent moved from another county in Georgia outside the 20-county region. Other migration made up slightly more than 3 percent of the incoming population.

The phrase I emphasized is one of the ironies of migration. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. That's just as true for the Rust Belt as it is for the Sun Belt. Yet the rule continues to be a "revelation". More interesting (to me) is the out-of-state inmigration compared to that coming from the rest of Georgia. The interstate migration pattern is another story, but the data are net migration and hide more than they reveal.

Concerning the more recent numbers, I have three remarkable stories. First, the battle between Rochester and Buffalo:

During the past decade, the Census Bureau estimates, the gap between New York’s second-and third-largest cities has narrowed to about 88,000 people. The Buffalo Niagara region, which encompasses both Erie and Niagara counties, ranks as the 50th largest in the nation at about 1.2 million people, while the Rochester region, which covers five counties, ranks 51st at 1.03 million.

My read on this is that Rochester is emerging as the city of gravity in this part of New York. What I mean is that I'd bet on Rochester to be the best performer in the region over the next decade. Again, the Rust Belt is shaking out in different directions. More on Upstate here.

After decades on the rise, California's foreign-born population has peaked and in some large areas -- including Los Angeles County -- has even slightly declined, with that trend expected to continue, according to a new report.

This peaking of the foreign-born population has occurred earlier than previously forecast because of sharp declines in new immigrant arrivals, largely attributed to stepped-up border enforcement and the downturn in the economy, according to the report by USC demographer Dowell Myers. In the report's figures, California has a population of roughly 34 million.

"In the last decade, homegrown residents have surpassed migrants and immigrants to become a majority of the California population for the first time since before the Gold Rush," Myers said in his report.

That's staggering. Pittsburgh is reversing a trend that has lasted about 50 or 60 years. The above has stood for more than a century (and change), practically antebellum California. I keep running across optimistic stories that the migration will return to normal once the economy recovers. I'm not so sure.

A steady influx of black people to Iowa, many from Chicago, Milwaukee and other urban areas, has created tension in some Iowa communities.

White, blue-collar Charles City in northern Iowa, with about 7,500 residents, experienced some social friction about five years ago when 25 families moved from Chicago to take advantage of more readily available public housing. Within about two years, 44 black children from Chicago enrolled in Charles City's public schools.

Some residents complained of spikes in crime at the time, but police denied it. Mayor James Erb said recently there is still some grumbling related to residents in public housing, but people are generally getting along.

Blacks and Latinos represent a demographic boon for Iowa. But this inmigration gets swept under the rug in "Hollowing Out the Middle". I found the book to be shocking in the way the authors point the finger at residents sowing the seeds for leaving home. I'm perplexed as to why many of the most progressive thinkers about shrinking communities seem to eschew talent attraction. I'm troubled by the romantic notions of local culture. Regardless, the tension is a good indicator that the demographic tale for Iowa is pointing in the right direction.

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