The new Census population estimates are out today, and only two metros added more than 100,000 people between July 2013 and July 2014. Houston and Dallas—both in Texas.
Only one metro with a population greater than 1 million people grew by 3 percent last year. It's Austin—also in Texas.
And you'll never guess what state had the most entries in the list of 50 counties with the greatest population gains. I'm kidding, you definitely will guess, because it's Texas.
If you pretend that the United States is populated exclusively by twentysomething graduates of national research universities, you'll develop the sense that everybody is moving to the city centers of New York, Chicago, San Jose, and Boston. In fact, all three of those metro areas have seen more Americans leaving than coming in the last five years. The cities with the highest levels of net domestic migration since 2010 are Houston, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, Denver, and San Antonio. Once again, we're talking about Texas. More broadly, we're talking about sprawly metros with fast-growing suburbs in the Sun Belt.
Where Americans Are Moving: Net Domestic Migration Between 2010-2014, by Metro
The unavoidable takeaway from the Census report is that Americans have resumed the westward suburban ho of the early 21st century, before the Great Recession came crashing down. None of the 20 fastest-growing metros are in the northeast. Rather, they're in the sunny crescent that swoops from the Carolinas down through Texas and up into the west toward the Dakotas. Americans are back to sun-worshipping, as the New York Times explains in an all-too-clear graph:
Like Moths to a Flame: Population Growth in 2014, by Average January High Temperature
The story of immigration is slightly different. The list of cities with the greatest foreign-born influxes since 2010 includes some of these warm metros, like Houston and Dallas, but also filling out the top-ten metros for immigrants are areas where more native-born Americans are leaving, like New York (#1), Los Angeles (#2), Boston (#7), and Chicago (#9).
But the upshot seems to be that even as the recession sparked interest in an urban revival, the metros that seem to be winning the population lottery are suburbs of warm metros—including many of the very Sun Belt areas that seemed devastated by the recession.
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