Census population estimates show that the 16 states and the District of Columbia that comprise the South saw an increase of almost 1.4 million people between 2014 and 2015. The 13 states in the West grew by about 866,000 people.
The gains represent the largest annual growth in population of the decade for both regions and signal that the multi-decade migration to the Sun Belt has resumed after being interrupted by the Great Recession of 2007-09 and the economic sluggishness and anxiety that followed.
In comparison, population growth in the Northeast and the Midwest — including what’s known as the Snow Belt — remained sluggish, growing by about 258,000 residents combined…
A search for jobs and more affordable housing were behind two-thirds of the long-distance moves made between 2014 and 2015, according to a separate census report. Family reasons, such as getting married or rejoining relatives, accounted for another quarter of households moving.
People would generally say that mobility like this is good: Americans feel more confident in moving (they can sell their house, find a new job) and chase new opportunities (we’re told a good market requires workers who are willing to go where the jobs are located). At the same time, the states that are losing population could suffer some negative consequences ranging from a loss of status (both perceived and real – the article mentions the shift in House seats) to declining tax bases.
Even as this shift to the Sun Belt continues, it would be interesting to take a long-term perspective: how has this changed the United States as a whole? While Los Angeles has certainly risen to the top (and eclipsed Chicago as the Second City), the South is still often treated as distinct rather than the new normal.