Net migration for urban and suburban neighborhoods across the US

November 05, 2020

Estimated 2020 net migration for the top 5% of US counties. Spikes sized by net number of individuals.

Estimated 2020 net migration for the top 5% of US counties. Spikes sized by net number of individuals.
Source: StratoDem Analytics

Key Points

  • StratoDem Analytics nowcasts show strong 2020 population growth driven by migration flows to Texas, Arizona, and the Southeastern US, including Florida and the Carolinas.
  • Net migration to suburban neighborhoods is estimated to be 20 times the rate of net migration to urban neighborhoods.

Background

StratoDem Analytics generates hyper-local economic and demographic estimates across the US, meshing the latest economic indicators to create nowcasts of population flows. This analysis looks at two major trends in the data for 2020 so far:

  1. General outperformance of Texas, Arizona, and the Southeastern US for population growth, driven largely by net in-migration of population and households.
  2. Substantial outperformance of suburban neighborhoods for net migration relative to urban neighborhoods.

US trends for net migration in 2020

The spike map (inspired by these beautiful visualizations at the New York Times) below shows the top 5% of US counties based on net migration rate in 2020. Higher spikes indicate a larger net in-migration to the county. Florida, Texas and the Carolinas are the most obvious large clusters of spikes, with other less-urban locations in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain regions (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming) also performing well in 2020 for net migration. The largest spike in Maricopa County, AZ, reflects the continued attraction of the Phoenix market, as well as its already larger population. Counties surrounding Denver, CO also have strong attraction for migration in 2020.

Estimated 2020 net migration for the top 5% of US counties. Spikes sized by net number of individuals.

Estimated 2020 net migration for the top 5% of US counties. Spikes sized by net number of individuals.
Source: StratoDem Analytics

Six Texas counties among top 20 for net migration rate in 2020

Five Texas counties are in the top 15 nationally for net migration rate in 2020:

  • Hays County, TX (Austin-Round Rock MSA)
  • Comal County, TX (San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA)
  • Williamson County, TX (Austin-Round Rock MSA)
  • Kendall County, TX (San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA)
  • Fort Bend County, TX (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland MSA)

Across Texas, however, growth is not consistent:

  • The core counties in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston still see net in-migration, but at a lower rate compared to the suburban counties in each market.
  • Many counties across Texas show flat or negative net migration, especially in counties with high energy dependence.

Estimated 2020 net migration for Texas counties. Spikes sized by net migration.

Estimated 2020 net migration for Texas counties. Spikes sized by net migration relative to the population. Green (up) represents net inflows, red (down) represents net outflows.
Source: StratoDem Analytics

Urban-suburban split

Classifying all census tracts across the US as urban, suburban, or rural 1 reveals large deviations in net migration between neighborhood types. In 2020, suburban census tracts have roughly 25 times the net migration rate of urban census tracts (Table 1).

Neighborhood classification 2020 average net migration rate
Urban 0.02%
Suburban 0.57%
Rural 0.29%
Table 1: 2020 average net migration rate by urbanization status for US census tracts
Source: StratoDem Analytics

1. Urbanization status based on StratoDem Analytics analysis of Urbanization Perceptions Small Area Index from "The Urbanization Perceptions Small Area Index: An Application of Machine Learning and Small Area Estimation to Household Survey Data" Bucholtz, Molfino and Kolko (2020). The Urbanization Perceptions Small Area Index: An Application of Machine Learning and Small Area Estimation to Household Survey Data.

Urbanization status by census tract in New England

Urbanization status by census tract in New England.
Blue = Urban, Green = Suburban, Yellow = Rural
Source: StratoDem Analytics

Conclusion

StratoDem Analytics will continue to monitor economic conditions and adjust model forecasts accordingly. Future posts in this series will cover impacts on market segments impacted by population movement across urbanization status, age, and income brackets.

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