Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Reset Migration

Update: Courtesy of The Washington Post, the William Frey numbers for the net migration of the 25-34 cohort. I'm trying to figure out what "Since2005-07" refers to. It looks like Pittsburgh is 7th overall in attracting young migrants and ahead of such metros such Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver. Am I reading the rankings correctly?
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More articles continue to appear in the wake of the American Community Survey data dump yesterday. The heart of the matter concerns the impact of the recession on migration. The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire with the analysis:

The institute’s study compared three years’ worth of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which was released early Thursday and covered 2008-10, with the data from 2005-7. Since the survey’s findings are released in three-year increments, this was the first time that researchers had a set of data that included only years since the financial collapse began, allowing them to make a direct comparison to a similar period before the collapse.

Using this and other data from the I.R.S. that many researchers consider even more comprehensive, they found that migration into formerly booming states like Arizona, Florida and Nevada began to slow as soon as the recession hit and continued to shrink even into 2010, when many demographers expected it to level off. At the same time, Massachusetts, New York and California, which had been hemorrhaging people for years, and continued to do so in the three years before the financial collapse, suddenly saw the domestic migration loss shrink by as much as 90 percent.

Arizona, Florida, and Nevada are the new Rust Belt states. The dark times are just getting started. New destinations are reshaping America's economic geography. Analysis from Brookings William Frey:

“These places that were getting real new interest amid the bubble are not seeing that anymore, and in a way it is making people give another place a second look,” Mr. Frey said. “The dynamics of high housing costs on the coasts and relatively affordable inland is starting to change so, in effect, that shuts off the merry-go-round.”

“If nobody can buy or sell their homes, there’s going to be a stagnancy,” he added.

Atlanta, which ranked third as a destination for young people in that age group from 2005 through 2007, sank to No. 23 in the period from 2008 through 2010, according to Mr. Frey’s analysis. Phoenix dropped to No. 17 from second place, and Las Vegas plummeted to No. 35 from 10th place.

The winners were cities like Washington, which skyrocketed to sixth from 44th, Denver, which jumped to first from 12th, and Boston, which is now No. 26, up from No. 45.

Mr. Frey said that, in many ways, young people were staying in the more established cities with a kind of wait-and-see approach to the economy. He said he expected the relocation rates to pick up as soon as there were new housing and job opportunities for young adults.

“They are trying to bide their time in a hip place they know,” he said. “But there is going to be a pent-up demand for migration, because right now people are just putting their lives on hold.”

Plenty of meat in that passage. I now have a better idea why Frey is lumping in Pittsburgh with other established hipster destinations. The recession marks a dramatic improvement, even when compared to the rest of the United States, in Pittsburgh's migration ledger.

I also appreciate the tip of the hat to less risk appetite. Young adult migrants are riding it out in familiar confines. The gambling, going where you don't know, should pick up with the economy. For Pittsburgh, that might mean that those staying put now will pick up and go.

I'm betting the opposite will happen. More people from elsewhere will head to Pittsburgh as the risk aversion subsides. The mesofacts of the matter have changed that significantly.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused. How is it that the 08-10 numbers are 2,000 for Pgh and the "since" 05-07 #s are 6,000?

Would the gains really be in the since 08 time period? How do LA and NYC have such swings?


Jim Russell said...


I was confused, too. The 08-10 numbers are 6,000 better than the 05-07 numbers. The net migration from 05-07 was negative.