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HEADED DOWN SOUTH

These are the states where most Americans moved in 2021

The American flag and Texas state flag fly outside the dome of the Texas state capitol building
REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Welcome to Texas.
By Camille Squires
Published Last updated

Texas added more new residents in 2021 than any other state,  according to new data released by the US Census Bureau on Dec. 21. Florida, another state that has made headlines for its population growth, saw the second biggest population increase.

These states have grown even as the US’s overall population growth is the lowest it’s ever been. Population growth for an individual state is a combination of “natural increase”—birth rates versus death rates—and migration, both internationally and domestically from other states. Florida and Texas experienced all these forms of growth last year, but domestic migration was the largest driver. Florida welcomed 220,890  new residents from other US states between July 2020 and July 2021, and Texas received 170,307.

Texas and Florida remain popular destinations

These two southern states saw a large influx of people at the same time populations states like California and New York shrank by 1 or 2%. In some ways, these changes are directly related: 2020 and 2021 saw a sort of exodus among professionals as businesses and individuals, in part driven by changing work conditions in the pandemic, left big, expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City in search of a cheaper cost of living and lower taxes in Texas and Florida.

Over the past year, talk of a Wall Street South has emerged as several New York finance giants like Blackstone and Elliot Management opened offices in Florida. Meanwhile, Elon Musk made waves in late 2020 when he announced that he was moving himself, as well as Tesla’s headquarters, to Texas, indicating that California’s high cost of living and tight regulatory environment were part of the reason why.

The South has been growing for years

On a broader scale, however, the idea to move to Texas and Florida is no new thing; both states have topped the list for inflow migration since at least 2017. As the second and third most populous states in the US (number one is still California), their ability to attract new residents make sense; each state has more than one city that’s developed over years as economic and cultural hubs, and both are among the most racially diverse states in the country. The US’s south as a region has been growing year-over-year as well. Between 2018 and 2019, the south grew by 1 million people.

Across the US, the trend in population change across states tells a story of people leaving the Northeast and Midwest in favor of southern and western states.  Idaho saw the greatest proportional increase in population, growing by nearly 3% in a year. This state, too, is attracting a high number of ex-Californians.

On the ground in the states where populations are growing there has been a massive increase in demand for new homes that has led to soaring prices as well as a residential construction boom (pdf) in the south and west. But this increased demand has meant that the very same issues of affordability that are driving people away from California are now being replicated. According to the Texas Tribune, home prices across the state have risen 33% since January 2020. Miami-Dade County in Florida also saw a 33% increase between January 2020 and July of the next year.

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