NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 21, 2006

Americans are leaving the nation's big cities in search of cheaper homes and open spaces farther out. Nearly every large metropolitan area had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004, with a few exceptions in the South and Southwest, according to a report released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau measured domestic migration -- people moving within the United States -- from 1990 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2004. The report provides the number of people moving into and out of each state and the 25 largest metropolitan areas.

  • The states that attracted the most new residents were Florida, Arizona and Nevada. The states that lost the most were New York, California and Illinois.
  • Among the 25 largest metropolitan areas, 18 had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- the three biggest metropolitan areas -- lost the most residents to domestic moves. The New York metropolitan area had a net loss of more than 210,000 residents a year from 2000 to 2004.
  • Other areas that attracted a lot of new residents also have relatively inexpensive homes, even if they are not the cheapest in the country. Phoenix, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth round out the top five metropolitan areas.

Richard Florida, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, says smaller, wealthier households are replacing larger families in many big metropolitan areas. That drives up housing prices even as the population shrinks, chasing away even more members of the middle class.

"Because they are bidding up prices, they are forcing some people out to the exurbs and the fringe," says Florida. "Other people are forced to make moves in response to that. I don't have any sense of this abating."

Source: Stephen Ohlemacher, "Census: Americans Are Fleeing Big Cities," Associated Press, April 19, 2006.

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