April 21, 2024

Recession Slows Migration, Census Finds

About 10.5 million Americans changed counties from 2009 to 2010, or about 3.5 percent of the population, the lowest percentage since 1947, when the government first started tracking the numbers, according to census data released this week.

It was fewer than the 11 million who moved the previous year, and down by a third from the 15.8 million who moved from 2004 to 2005, when the economy was doing well.

The number caps a decade whose final years had steep declines in migration, as the recession and effects of the housing crisis continue to freeze Americans in place, said Kenneth Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Mobility tends to slow in times of economic hardship, like the Great Depression in the 1930s and the energy crisis in the 1970s.

But unlike in past recessions, when some areas like Texas and Florida that had traditionally had high population increases kept receiving migrants, the most recent recession touched all areas of the country, Mr. Johnson said. Florida registered a decline during the past decade for the first time since the 1940s.

“I expected it to tick back up this year, but that didn’t happen,” Mr. Johnson said of domestic migration, which measures the number of American citizens moving between counties.

Another barometer of economic vitality, immigration, which measures people moving into the United States from other countries, also declined. It was down by half from the 1.8 million who arrived from 2004 to 2005.

In all, about 37 million Americans moved from 2009 to 2010, including those who moved within the same county, according to the data, which came from an annual survey of about 100,000 households. That is about the same as the number who migrated in the previous year.

People who move between counties or states are less likely to do so for housing reasons than those moving shorter distances, Mr. Johnson said. Those going shorter distances represent about two-thirds of all movers.

About 4 out of 10 movers cited housing-related reasons. Another third said they had moved for family reasons, and about 16 percent said job reasons.

People with incomes below the poverty line were more likely to move than those just above it, according to the data.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=05b6c78ed80726f28fef6f15dc7dbcf8

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