Everyone you know moved during the pandemic. A new Census Bureau report helps clear up where they left and where they ended up. Here are four takeaways:
1. Americans chased the sun. Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Atlanta collectively gained 300,000 residents from mid-2020 to mid-2021.
2. That came at the expense of “superstar cities.” New York, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco lost more than 700,000 people combined over the same time frame.
3. Growth is heavily concentrated. The 10 fastest-growing counties in the US made up nearly 80% of population growth during the period studied.
4. Size doesn’t matter. Micro areas, or regions with a core city of fewer than 50,000 residents, reversed their yearslong stagnation by increasing their populations. Kalispell and Bozeman in MT and Jefferson, GA, led the way.
Big picture: Immigration is the X factor. Immigration levels plunged during the pandemic, which helps explain the population loss in America’s biggest cities. Some demographers say a bump in immigration post-Covid could result in those population declines representing a “blip,” rather than a more permanent trend.—NF