Jobs

Some States Create Lots of Jobs But Lose People

Americans keep moving to the South and West even as old northern cities like New York and Boston thrive.

Stress event.

Photographer: Philip Ramey/corbis/getty images

The U.S. population keeps shifting to the West and South: as of July 1, 61.6 percent of Americans lived in those two regions, the Census Bureau reported this week. That's up from 60.4 percent in the 2010 census, 58.1 percent in 2000, 55.6 percent in 1990 -- and 44 percent in 1950.

Some of that population shift can be chalked up to southern and western states having a wider margin of births over deaths than their neighbors to the north and east -- which makes sense given that the median age is higher in the Midwest and Northeast. Immigration from abroad is a mixed bag. There's been more of it (relative to overall population) in the South and West than the Midwest since 2010, but the Northeast has seen the highest immigration rate of all.

The really dramatic difference is in domestic migration. People have been leaving Midwestern and Northeastern states, and mostly ending up in Southern and Western ones.

Where Americans Are Moving To

Net domestic migration, 2010 through 2016

Source: Census Bureau

The big anomaly is California, which is very much in the West, yet has lost an estimated 383,344 residents to other states since 2010.

Where Americans Are Moving From

Net domestic migration, 2010 through 2016

Source: Census Bureau

A few of the states that have been seeing a lot of domestic out-migration are still experiencing solid overall population growth (4 percent or more since 2010, compared with a national average of 4.7 percent): California mainly because births are far outpacing deaths, Massachusetts mainly because of immigration from abroad, Maryland because of both.

Also -- and I find this really interesting -- some of the states with the biggest out-migration since 2010 have also been among the biggest job creators during that period:

Where the New Jobs Are

Increase in employment,* January 2010 through November 2016

Sources: Bloomberg, Bureau of Labor Statistics

*Nonfarm payroll employment, seasonally adjusted

Some caveats: With employment growing nationwide, the biggest states are naturally going to see some of the biggest job-growth numbers. Also, some manufacturing states that were hit especially hard during and even before the recession have bounced back since then, but still experienced dismal job growth over the longer term (Michigan, for example, now has 296,200 fewer nonfarm jobs than it did in January 2000; Ohio has 113,000 fewer).

Still, urban centers such as San Jose/San Francisco, Boston and New York City have been thriving during the past decade-plus, creating jobs -- a lot of them high-paying -- at a much faster rate than the nation as a whole. California and Massachusetts rank first and second in Bloomberg's 2016 state innovation index, which was released this week. These places are not withering away.

So why are people leaving? In New York a big part of the problem is that almost all the job creation is in and near New York City, while the rest of the state struggles. In California ever-rising real estate prices, high taxes and crowded roads are driving even well-paid people away (these are surely factors in Massachusetts and New York as well). In all of these places, the seeming inability to build enough new housing near to where jobs are being created seems to be holding back growth. And so the population shift -- to Texas, to Florida, to Colorado, to North Carolina -- continues.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Justin Fox at justinfox@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

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