Two-thirds of all rural and exurban counties lost population due to domestic migration. Counties near fast-growing cities, in popular retirement areas and in oil and gas development areas saw an increase of people due to domestic migration.
There’s always a lot of talk about international migration — as well there should be. The flow of people from other countries into rural America is changing thousands of communities.
But communities are also affected by migration within this country, and that’s what the map above reveals. The map shows the net domestic migration between April 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012 in all rural and exurban counties. (Remember, rural counties are “nonmetropolitan”; exurban counties are in metro regions, but have about half their population living in rural settings.)
The U.S. Census measures the flows of people within the U.S., or domestic migration. (They do this by tracking Medicare payments and tax returns.) Yellow counties had a net increase of people due to domestic migration. (That is, more people moved from within the U.S. to this county than moved out.)
Purple counties had more people move out of the county domestically than move in.
Click on the map or click here and you’ll get a live, interactive version. If you then click on your county, you’ll find Census data for that community. There will be total population for 2012; how much the total population changed from 2010 to 2012; net domestic migration from 2010 to 2012 (comers minus goers); and net international migration (comers minus goers from those who aren’t U.S. citizens).
Two-thirds of rural and exurban counties lost population due to domestic migration from 2010 to 2012. In those years, rural America lost 227,000 in domestic migration. (Rural and exurban counties gained population from births and international migration.)
Fast-growing metro areas seem to bring domestic migrants to nearby rural and exurban counties. (Look at the areas of growth around Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.) The largest increases in domestic migration could be found in exurban counties, such as Montgomery near Houston and Hays near Austin.
Sumter County, Florida, a retirement community, had the second largest net domestic migration among all rural and exurban counties. Retirement counties in the Carolina Low Country also had large domestic migration gains.
Clearly the oil and gas booms in the Upper Great Plains and Texas has led to large gains. Williams County, North Dakota, had nearly a 4,000 person gain from 2010 to 2012 due to domestic migration.
The biggest loser due to domestic migration was San Juan County, New Mexico, in the Four Corners area, which lost nearly 4,000 people from domestic migration. Hendry County, in central Florida, lost nearly 3,000 people due to domestic migration.
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