Where Did People Move During the Pandemic and How Many Could Follow?
Cleveland Fed Researcher Stephan Whitaker presents estimates of the number of people who have migrated from high-cost, large population centers to lower-cost metros and small metros, towns and rural areas during the pandemic.
Among the findings:
- The big “winners” from the changes in net migration include smaller metro areas near high-cost, large metro areas and regions with growing tech clusters, such as Austin, Salt Lake, and Raleigh.
- In recent years, Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cleveland had been losing people to the high-cost, large metros. During the pandemic, the net migration flows reversed to favor these same metro areas.
- Moves from lower-cost and less-populous regions to high-cost, large metro areas declined by over 8 percent.
- Moves from high-cost, large metro areas to midsized metro areas increased by 10 percent and moves to small metro areas and rural regions increased by 9 percent.
Whitaker finds that the big shift of net migration away from expensive, large metro areas would have to become even bigger before it could significantly impact lower-cost and less-populated regions. However, the pool of remote workers who could follow these new migration patterns is large. Attracting even a fraction of these remote workers to a region could bring more economic activity than attracting several large employers.
Read the data brief.
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