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Press Release

Data Updates to U.S. Migration Patterns During the Pandemic

Cleveland Fed Policy Economist Stephan Whitaker has posted data updates to two reports on U.S. migration patterns during the pandemic.

Overall, the flow of people into urban neighborhoods continued to recover from a sharp drop earlier in the pandemic, but net-migration away from urban neighborhoods and high-cost, large metro areas remains far above the pre-pandemic levels.

Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Cause an Urban Exodus? Second Quarter 2021 Update for Tables and Figures

Key updates:

  • In the second quarter of 2021, net out-migration from urban neighborhoods continued to be more than 54,000 migrants per month, more than double the pace observed before the pandemic.
  • Gross outflow from urban neighborhoods rose from 284,000 in the first quarter of 2021 to 290,000 in the second quarter of 2021.
  • Gross inflow to urban neighborhoods increased by slightly more, rising from 228,000 to 236,000 migrants per month.
  • The flow of middle-aged people moving out to purchase homes in the suburbs is balancing a swelling return of young renters to urban neighborhoods.

Migrants from High-Cost, Large Metro Areas during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Their Destinations, and How Many Could Follow: Second Quarter 2021 Update for Tables and Figures

Key updates:

  • Instead of declining back toward prepandemic levels, the net migration out of high-cost, large metro areas increased slightly to 51,000 people per month in the second quarter of 2021.
  • Outflows from high-cost metro areas continue to favor nearby small metro areas such as Stockton, Bakersfield, Allentown, and Scranton.
  • Larger metro areas that have a long track record of drawing migrants have displaced the slow-growing metro areas that briefly benefited earlier in the pandemic, such as Rochester, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.
  • High-cost, large metro areas are once again sending people to rapid-growth destinations such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479