Report on Domestic Migration by State

Over the last few decades, much attention has been given to the fact that domestic migration has heavily favored the “Sun Belt”, states made up of the Southeast west to the West Coast. While Northern states weren’t all losing people, the region as a whole sent far more people to the Sun Belt than they retained. This helped fuel the respective Southern boom, and media story after media story over the years have made sweeping predictions of this growing powerhouse region, often centered around the idea that the boom had no foreseeable end. The irony with these predictions is that they ignored history. For more than 2 centuries, the North was where people moved. Its states and cities saw massive influxes of population. As recently as the decade of the 1950s, Ohio grew by nearly 2 million alone. Economic conditions in decline, job losses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, increases in the cost of living and other factors ended the boom and helped to bring about the rise of the South, so to speak. Since at least the 1960s, the story has been about the Sun Belt/West.

The US Census does state migration estimates every year, and there are some interesting things going on in the data that may indicate that the boom in the South is faltering while the North’s fortunes are not looking as grim as they once did.

First, what are the regions?
South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
North: Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.
West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Let’s next look at the states by rank of domestic migration in 2005, the earliest available year for the state data, and compared it to 2012, the most recent year available. This period covers the period just before and just after the Great Recession.

Domestic Migration Rank, 2005 vs. 2012, by Total
1. Florida: +188,035__________________________1. Florida: +108,823
2. Arizona: +131,501_________________________2. Texas: +105,565
3. Texas: +124,522__________________________3. Colorado: +43,530
4. Georgia: +88,250__________________________4. Washington: +37,187
5. North Carolina: +51,575_____________________5. North Carolina: +34,846
6. Tennessee: +43,901________________________6. South Carolina: +34,149
7. Oregon: +43,360___________________________7. Nevada: +25,835
8. Washington: +38,093________________________8. Arizona: +25,615
9. South Carolina: +32,312______________________9. Georgia: +25,204
10. Arkansas: +30,765_________________________10. Missouri: +20,176
11. Nevada: +26,839__________________________11. North Dakota: +14,254
12. Idaho: +20,308____________________________12. Tennessee: +13,255
13. Colorado: +16,963_________________________13. Virginia: +12,110
14. Oklahoma: +16,372_________________________14. Arkansas: +11,981
15. Alabama: +14,501__________________________15. Oregon: +10,742
16. New Mexico: +13,714_______________________16. New Hampshire: +10,711
17. Delaware: +12,561_________________________17. Delaware: +10,610
18. Virginia: +11,121___________________________18. Kentucky: +8,899
19. Kentucky: +7,451___________________________19. Mississippi: +6,569
20. Missouri: +6,338____________________________20. Oklahoma: +6,402
21. Iowa: +5,406_______________________________21. Utah: +5,717
22. Montana: +4,185____________________________22. Vermont: +4,375
23. Pennsylvania: +2,868________________________23. South Dakota: +3,578
24. Maine: +2,447______________________________24. Montana: +3,410
25. Hawaii: +2,388______________________________25. Idaho: +3,400
26. West Virginia: +998__________________________26. Wisconsin: +1,468
27. New Hampshire: +497________________________27. Iowa: +275
28. South Dakota: +360__________________________28. Ohio: -105
29. Wyoming: -366______________________________29. West Virginia: -300
30. Minnesota: -1,154____________________________30. Wyoming: -639
31. Kansas: -2,244______________________________31. Maryland: -2,821
32. North Dakota: -2,553__________________________32. Rhode Island: -2,948
33. Wisconsin: -2,756____________________________33. Louisiana: -4,741
34. Vermont: -3,580_____________________________34. Kansas: -4,850
35. Nebraska: -5,128____________________________35. Nebraska: -5,174
36. Utah: -5,639________________________________36. Hawaii: -6,364
37. Connecticut: -6,536__________________________37. Connecticut: -6,712
38. Mississippi: -7,120___________________________38. Washington D.C.: -7,470
39. Indiana: -9,222______________________________39. New Mexico: -9,228
40. Maryland: -9,718____________________________40. Alabama: -9,431
41. Washington D.C.: -12,872_____________________41. Indiana: -10,460
42. Rhode Island: -15,037________________________42. Maine: -11,025
43. New Jersey: -22,051_________________________43. Minnesota: -14,904
44. Alaska: -23,567_____________________________44. Massachusetts: -15,579
45. Ohio: -40,841______________________________45. Pennsylvania: -21,656
46. Massachusetts: -52,726______________________46. Michigan: -41,761
47. Michigan: -53,852___________________________47. Alaska: -49,250
48. Illinois: -55,932_____________________________48. Illinois: -68,356
49. Louisiana: -99,684__________________________49. California: -73,345
50. New York: -239,848_________________________50. New Jersey: -89,666
51. California: -266,243_________________________51. New York: -135,149

So in 2005, the breakdown was as follows:
12 of 14 Southern states had positive domestic migration. The only 2 that did not, Louisiana and Mississippi, were heavily influenced in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which caused large numbers of displaced residents to leave the states entirely.
7 of 24 Northern states has positive domestic migration. The 7 states were mixed between the Midwest and the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic. Just one Great Lakes State had positive domestic migration in 2005.
9 of 13 Western states had positive domestic migration. Only California and a few Mountain West states had negative numbers.

The 2005 numbers show the overall domestic migration picture as it had been for at least the last few decades, if not much longer. The South and West were the dominant net gainers of domestic migration, while most of the North sent people to those regions.

In 2012, the breakdown was as follows:
11 of 14 Southern states had positive domestic migration. Even with Katrina-hit state Mississippi having net gains in 2012, the overall number of states with positive gains declined.
8 of 24 Northern states had positive domestic migration, a slight improvement over 2005.
8 of 13 Western states had positive domestic migration, a slight decline over 2005.

But the breakdowns don’t tell us the whole story. When trying to compare the two years, trends are very important, and the trends are far more revealing.

Total Change 2005-2012 By Rank
1. California: +192,898
2. New York: +104,699
3. Louisiana: +94,943
4. Ohio: +40,736
5. Massachusetts: +37,147
6. Colorado: +26,567
7. North Dakota: +16,807
8. Missouri: +13,838
9. Mississippi: +13,689
10. Michigan: +12,091
11. Rhode Island: +12,089
12. Utah: +11,356
13. New Hampshire: +10,214
14. Vermont: +7,955
15. Maryland: +6,897
16.Washington, D.C.: +5,402
17. Wisconsin: +4,224
18. South Dakota: +3,218
19. South Carolina: +1,837
20. Kentucky: +1,448
21. Virginia: +989
22. Nebraska: -46
23. Connecticut: -176
24. Wyoming: -273
25. Montana: -775
26. Washington: -906
27. Nevada: -1,004
28. Indiana: -1,238
29. West Virginia: -1,298
30. Delaware: -1,951
31. Kansas: -2,606
32. Iowa: -5,131
33. Hawaii: -8,752
34. Oklahoma: -9,970
35. Illinois: -12,424
36. Maine: -13,472
37. Minnesota: -13,750
38. North Carolina: -16,729
39. Idaho: -16,908
40. Arkansas: -18,784
41. Texas: -18,957
42. New Mexico: -22,942
43. Alabama: -23,932
44. Pennsylvania: -24,524
45. Alaska: -25,683
46. Tennessee: -30,646
47. Oregon: -32,618
48. Georgia: -63,046
49. New Jersey: -67,615
50. Florida: -79,212
51. Arizona: -105,886

5 of 14 Southern states improved their domestic migration rates 2005-2012.
13 of 24 Northern states improved their domestic migration rates 2005-2012.
3 of 13 Western states improved their domestic migration rates 2005-2012.

Ohio had the 4th best improvement over the period, a huge change. But some might ask, is it really a change when the rates may still be positive or negative like they were before? Well, yes and no. 7 years is not that long, and we’re talking about decades-long patterns here. Those won’t change like flipping a switch. It will take time. The point is more that for many states that have faced negative numbers for a long time, there is positive momentum now that they did not have before. Another question some may ask, however, is if the recession during the period reduced mobility. In some cases, I’m sure that it did, but if so, that reduction seems to have been centered on the South. A reduction in mobility would only indicate that migration rates would reduce to levels around 0, neither particularly positive nor negative. That reduction would NOT necessarily support switches from positive to negative or increases in negative or positive rates that already exist. Meaning that reduced mobility would mean that positive would become less positive as fewer people moved in, and negative would become less negative as fewer people left. On a state and regional basis, there is a wide range of results that do not support that geographic mobility alone is the culprit, or even a primary factor.

In Part 2, we’ll look more closely at how regions and individual states are performing relative to each other.

Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

I haven’t done a weather-specific post in a while, and this week marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Great Lakes Hurricane. The storm lashed Ohio and other Great Lakes states for 3 days from November 9th-11th, 1913, causing widespread damage and loss of life. More than 250 died, mostly from drowning as 19 ships sank on the Great Lakes.

The storm began on the 9th as a pair of low-pressure systems collided over Michigan and the southern Lakes. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s dropped throughout the day on the 8th as the combined storm pulled a cold front across Ohio. A tight pressure gradient caused strong winds and rain turned to heavy snow. While the brunt of the storm hit the Cleveland area and adjacent lakeshore communities, the storm affected 3/4ths of Ohio, including Columbus.

A heavy rain began in Columbus on the 7th as the cold front moved through. Temperatures dropped from the mid-50s early on the 8th to the mid-30s by evening. On the 9th, as temperatures dropped to and below freezing, snow began to fall, becoming occasionally heavy throughout the day. Winds of 40mph in the Columbus area combined with the snow to create blizzard conditions throughout the 9th and early into the 10th, though not nearly as severe as they were on Lake Erie. Snowfall totals were 10″-20″ across all of Eastern Ohio, and the Cleveland area had up to 2 feet. Columbus, with its 7.5″ total, got off lucky, while Cincinnati had just 1 inch.

The storm remains as the most severe early winter storm in Ohio history.

November 8th, 1913

Headlines of November 13, 1913.

More information on this storm can be found here: