It has become a commonplace to say that population has been flowing from the Snow Belt to the Sun Belt, from an industrially ailing East and Midwest to an economically vibrant West and South. But the actual picture of recent growth, as measured by the 2000 Census and the census estimates for 2006, is more complicated. Recently I looked at the census estimates for 50 metropolitan areas with more than one million people in 2006, where 54% of Americans live. (I cheated a bit on definitions, adding Durham to Raleigh and combining San Francisco and San Jose.) What I found is that you can separate them into four different categories, with different degrees and different sources of population growth or decline. And I found some interesting surprises.
Start with the Coastal Megalopolises: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago (on the coast of Lake Michigan), Miami, Washington and Boston. Here is a pattern you don't find in other big cities: Americans moving out and immigrants moving in, in very large numbers, with low overall population growth. Los Angeles, defined by the Census Bureau as Los Angeles and Orange Counties, had a domestic outflow of 6% of 2000 population in six years--balanced by an immigrant inflow of 6%. The numbers are the same for these eight metro areas as a whole.
I'm sure the idea here was to show that "Americans" -- by which I'm sure the author means "white folks of European ancestry" -- are leaving the cities to the "immigrants" -- by which he means "everybody not like themselves." This is a racist assertion and I'd like to see this migration correlated against things like the creation of new jobs and the cost of living. In Bush's flat economy, people will go where they can afford to live and where they can find work.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!