Economy keeps Americans from moving
2009/03/20, 4:51 pm
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Americans stayed put last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.

During the last decade, millions of people living in colder and higher-cost areas sold their homes and moved to places like Florida and Nevada in search of cheaper homes and better jobs. Last year, with homes hard to sell and jobs harder to find, people stayed in older metro areas and populations in gritty cities like New York City and Philadelphia were more stable.

For instance, a net of 15,000 people left Cleveland for some place else in 2007-2008, compared with a net of 21,000 between 2005-2006. Sunbelt metro areas affected the most were those with the worst housing markets. For instance, the Phoenix area gained 50,000 domestic migrants in 2007-2008, half as many as it did two years earlier. Las Vegas increased by a net 14,000 domestic migrants, two-third fewer than two years ago.

Fewer new residents are depressing economies in troubled Sunbelt cities. Not only is it hard to sell the large number of unsold homes when there are fewer newcomers, but also a disproportionate share of existing residents are employed in the construction and real estate industries.

Here are some more tidbits from the data:

Sixty of Michigan’s 83 counties lost population.

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, were the fastest-growing metro areas with growth rates of 4.3 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.

The five metros with the biggest numerical gains were Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

New Orleans’ population grew 2 percent to 1.1 million, still less than its pre-Hurricane Katrina population of 1.3 million.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Conor Dougherty, and The Associated Press, Hope Yen (03/19/2009)

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