It was an April 1st headline, but the statistics were no joke. "People are fleeing New York at an alarming rate," the New York Post announced. And indeed, they are—sort of.
For starters, a bit of terminology. The Census Bureau tracks two sorts of American movers. First, there are “domestic migrants,” who move from one U.S. county to another. Second, there are “international migrants,” who move from a foreign country to America. Somewhat confusingly, the latter definition does not mean “all immigrants.” A Guatemalan-born woman who lives in Houston for two years and then moves Dallas is considered a domestic migrant, since she’s moving between American cities.
That sounds like some methodological mumbo jumbo, but it’s critical for understanding what’s happening to New York and the rest of America’s largest cities.
Net domestic migration to New York City metro area (which includes the five boroughs plus slivers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania) is down by a whopping 900,000 people since 2010. That means that, since 2010, almost a million more people have left New York for somewhere else in America than have moved to New York from another U.S. metro—more than any other metro in the country. This is the “fleeing” that the Post finds so “alarming.” But the New York metro has also netted about 850,000 international migrants since 2010. That number is also tops among all metros—more than Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, combined.