Author: William H. Frey
Population growth remains an important barometer of economic and societal well-being in America. This subject area follows the population growth and decline of U.S. places over the decade, and how the movement of people—from next-door communities, from other parts of the country, and from abroad—contributed to these trends. Findings on population include:
Population growth in the United States and its large metro areas was robust in the 2000s. The housing crisis and ensuing deep recession, however, slowed migration considerably, so that the share of Americans changing residence in 2007-2009 was lower than at any point in postwar U.S. history.
The decade continued the broad shift of U.S. population toward the Sunbelt. Metropolitan areas gaining the most population from 2000 to 2008 included several of the fastest growers from the 1990s, as well as regions that boomed during the early part of the decade due to real estate development, before the housing market crashed.
The 2000-2006 and 2006-2009 periods represent two distinct migration epochs for metropolitan America. Migration magnets in Florida and inland California during the first half of the decade saw inflows plummet post-crash, while metro areas in Texas and the Southeast with more diversified economies held steady. Large metro areas that had previously “exported” large numbers of residents to other parts of the country saw outmigration slow considerably toward the end of the decade.
Strong immigration throughout most of the 2000s cushioned populations in large metropolitan areas experiencing domestic out-migration. Metropolitan New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco lost hundreds of thousands of domestic migrants across the decade, but experienced substantial, counterbalancing inflows of international migrants.
Two-thirds of primary cities in large metropolitan areas grew from 2000 to 2008. City growth spread and accelerated between 2006 and 2008, as many core urban areas realized a “windfall” of residents due to the impact of the housing slump on movement to the suburbs.
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