Until recently, Americans were on the move. For decades, they left northern states and headed for the south and the sun. A recent article in The New York Times describes how these trends are changing. People are staying put, and American migration patterns have shifted as a direct result of economic downturn. Houses are harder to sell, jobs harder to get. The reality of the recession has got Americans staying exactly where they are, in the house they cannot sell and the job they cannot afford to give up.
All this is staying riiiight where it is
The study, conducted by University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, backs up previous observations that migration is slowing, and concludes that 2010 domestic movement struck an all-time since first measured in the 1940s. Arizona, Florida, and Nevada in particular are seeing their influx of residents dry up. On the other side of the coin, New York, California, and Massachusetts have experienced a 90 percent drop in the number of people leaving their borders for good.
No new southern home for you, my friend
What does this mean for Americans, and the states they inhabit? Warmer locations in the Sun Belt that experienced substantial population growth are now seeing that growth level off and, in some cases, reverse. A similar trend also appears within states: suburbs, which have been booming, have slowed in growth, and dwindling city populations are losing fewer residents. Younger people, typically big movers, are also less likely to move south—although the Times article did not speak to this issue, it’s possible that age distribution in southern locales will shift as a result.
The data are indicative of what we already know; when times are tough, people sit tight. What analysts cannot tell is whether migration changes are temporary—or whether they, along with the economy, will be effected for years to come. When things do change, however, some experts expect serious moving about: a flood of pent-up desire for change, unleashed.