Urban and Regional Migration Estimates: Will Your City Recover from the Pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive change in the movement of people at both the neighborhood and the regional levels in the United States. New migration estimates will enable us to track which urban neighborhoods and metro areas are returning to their old migration patterns and where the pandemic has permanently shifted migration trends.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive change in the movement of people at both the neighborhood and the regional levels in the United States. In this brief, I introduce a new series of migration measures that reveal that migration is rapidly returning to its old patterns in some metro areas, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. However, in other major metro areas, including Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego, the pandemic appears to have permanently shifted migration trends, with no return to the prepandemic trends in sight. Whether or not migration flows return to their prepandemic trends is critically important for businesses and policymakers throughout the country. Migration trends will determine winners and losers in home-price appreciation, local consumer demand and labor force growth, and tax revenues for state and local governments.
While this report builds on the District Data Briefs and updates published in 2021 and 2022, the estimates provided here are improved and designed to be used by readers on their own (Whitaker, 2021a, b). In addition to providing estimates through 2023:Q1, the series are presented in tables as well as graphs. The graphs and tables provide longer histories than the previous briefs, back to 2010 rather than 2017, for individual metro areas. There are also new net migration estimates for the 36 largest metro areas that cover all migration, both urban and non-urban.
The domestic migration estimates introduced in this brief are based on an anonymized random sample of credit histories called the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel (CCP). For an explanation of how credit histories can be used to measure migration, please see the appendix.
The views expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Whitaker, Stephan D. 2023. “Urban and Regional Migration Estimates: Will Your City Recover from the Pandemic?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Cleveland Fed District Data Brief. https://doi.org/10.26509/frbc-ddb-20230803