Sunbelt towns have grown in population during the pandemic, new census data shows
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Everyone you know has moved during the pandemic. A new report from the Census Bureau helps clarify where they went 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. This was done at the expense of “superstar cities”. New York, LA, Chicago and San Francisco lost more than 700,000 people combined during the same period.
3. Growth is highly concentrated. The 10 fastest growing U.S. counties accounted for almost 80% of population growth during the study period.
4. Size doesn’t matter. Microzones, or regions with a city center of less than 50,000 people, have reversed their years of stagnation by increasing their population. Kalispell and Bozeman in MT and Jefferson, GA led the way.
Big picture: Immigration is the X factor. Immigration levels have plummeted during the pandemic, which helps explain the population loss in America’s largest cities. Some demographers say a post-Covid increase in immigration could lead to these population declines representing a “coup de theater”, rather than a more permanent trend.NC