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Net domestic migration is still pretty suburban

For years, the data has been clear. Many Americans are moving from expensive cities, like Los Angeles, to less expensive metropolitan areas like Dallas-Fort Worth.

But Wendell Cox’s recent article over at New Geography is a good reminder that these data sets can be limited. The US Census Bureau currently tracks domestic migration at the county level only. This can be a bit of a problem as counties vary dramatically in terms of geography and population.

The New York metropolitan area, for example, is comprised of 25 different counties averaging about 750,000 residents. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, on the other hand, is compromised of two counties averaging about 6.6 million residents.

These sorts of nuances become important when you’re trying to figure out things like whether people are moving to/from urban cores or the suburbs. Case in point: The San Diego metro area is compromised of a single county. When people move there, the data says nothing about how urban or suburban they might be.

Dallas-Fort Worth is a lot easier to read. Since 2010, it has had the largest net domestic migration of any metro area in the US: +443,000 residents. But county data reveals that it is entirely suburban. The core (Dallas County) actually lost 57,000 people from 2010 to 2019. And this is not unique to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Photo by Gabriel Tovar on Unsplash

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