Thursday, December 8, 2011

Migrate to this Website for some Thursday Afternoon Procrastination

By Ellen Cutter, Director of Research.

Last month, Forbes rolled out an interactive map allowing users to visualize in-bound and out-bound migration patterns for every county in the United States over the last five years. The data powering the map are from the IRS, which uses tax filer zip codes and the number of exemptions to approximate migration and migrant income between counties. And, let me say this: it is awesome!

Of course, I have spent the last half hour (ok…maybe even a bit longer) obsessively clicking on various counties – places I’ve lived, places I’ve traveled to, Market Street client communities, and places that have been in the news in recent years due to natural disasters, housing market slumps, or other significant economic changes. I won’t spoil all of the fun, but a few interesting places to click on include the following. 

  • Orleans Parish, LA (New Orleans): The map bleeds red in 2006 red due to dramatic out-migration from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but the wave of residents back to New Orleans in subsequent years is promising.
  • Polk County, IA (Des Moines): As people told us in community input in our work with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, there are concerns about the region’s long-term talent pipeline because out-migration from other areas of Iowa have predominately fueled workforce growth in Des Moines. 
  • Clark County, NV (Las Vegas): Migration flows from 2005 reflect the booming housing and job market in metro Las Vegas, drawing workers from almost every county in California and many in the eastern seaboard.
  • Queens, Bronx, Kings, and New York County, NY (New York): The core counties of the New York City metro area are losing domestic migrants (one of three keys to population growth with the others being natural change (births minus deaths) and international immigration). With the long-term livability constraints of the region, including factors like housing prices and commute times, this isn’t too surprising.
  • Wayne County, MI (Detroit): Clicking through the years, the spread of geographies which out-migrants are leaving Detroit in favor of grows wider and wider and wider.

Now, if you’ve clicked on a community you’ve moved to or from in this five-year window and don’t see a migration flow for your move: don’t be alarmed. Since there are aggregate gross income figures associated with each migration pattern, IRS and Forbes have only disclosed migration flows that include a total of ten tax filers to protect the privacy of individual movers and households. And, if you are wondering about international migration you should know that is not captured by this map, but the IRS data do estimate aggregate foreign flows and can be accessed here. 

Happy procrastinating!