"25 years in a row, more people had left Louisiana than came into Louisiana. The only state in the South to lose our sons and daughters. One of the worst public school systems in the entire country. [...] You heard, we cut our budget 26%. We've got over 30,000 fewer state government bureaucrats than the day I took office. Eight different credit upgrades. Smallest number of state employees; best credit ratings in decades. I don't think that's a coincidence. Top-ten state for private-sector job creation. Seven years in a row of more people moving into Louisiana rather than leaving the state."
The Context: Speaking at C-Span's "Politics and Eggs" breakfast event, Bobby Jindal describes Louisiana's success through a series of metrics often used to measure economic and social opportunity. He includes that at the start of his tenure as governor, the state "was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina" and that New Orleans "was still trying to get back on its feet." While for several decades the state had suffered a population decline, he recounted that many of the displaced were not sure that they should or could return and rebuild. While his list of metrics, numbers, and rankings offers a variety of ways to measure growth, change, and opportunity, this portion of his speech began and ended with the question of whether American were move to or from Louisiana. It is also worth noting that the full speech begins with detailed anecdotes of his parents' immigration and early years in the US.
Part 1 of 2
With much of the election discussion centered around international migration, the question of domestic migration has not yet received much attention despite all that this movement implies and indicates. Within the United States, Americans are moving—as they have done for the last generation—at higher rates than before in our history. And just as with international migration, these movements are usually described as decisions made in search of new opportunities, and as a result states and cities end up competing with one another in their attempts to attract businesses and workers.
When certain states and cities experience incredible population growth resulting from domestic migration (as opposed to international immigration or natural birth rate increases), then of course this means that other states and cities are losing that important population. Just the same, when we talk about shrinking cities and local economies, we should be asking where these families and individuals are going. And so, we decided to ask just that in this two-part post. First, we should start with asking
How many Americans have been on the move recently? Which parts of the country have seen net increases and decreases in population due to domestic migration in the last few years?
This map (above) shows the total net population change because, in the end, the absolute numbers are important. They imply the total number of households to accommodate, new children enrolled in schools, greater (or fewer) jobs required and taxpayers contributing to the local economy, and larger (or smaller) loads placed on local infrastructures. But all counties are not equal nor have the same capacity, and thus the percent of population change from year to year is also relevant and should be considered in tandem. And so, we asked
Which parts of the country have seen the highest and lowest percentage shifts in population since 2010? And how consistent, from year to year, has that pattern been?
In Part 2, we'll look at how far Americans move in search of these opportunities and changes.