Migration Stats: Untold Stories

New York, more than any other state, is losing people to other states. That fact in itself may not be news to most of you. However, such out-migration has profound impacts on both sending communities (communities of origin) and destination communities. People, knowingly or not, vote with their feet. They make choices that reflect their values, attitudes, and opportunities. Out-migrants, in effect, vote against their origin community, while as in-migrants (same folks, right?) they vote in favor of their receiving community.

Migrants, therefore, are coalmine canaries whose chirps are indicators that deserve more attention. A migrant’s “chirp” (move) reflects an assessment of the pros and cons of two places. Potential migrants weigh, sometimes for years, the net present value (today’s perceived value of a future condition) of staying or leaving. When the balance (plus a bit of gumption) says “leave now,” the decision is made and potential becomes reality. It’s often a complicated decision for an individual, though sometimes not. However, for a community losing its inhabitants to other places, the cumulative effect of multiple migration decisions can mean “life” or “death,” a slow depleting of options for economic sustainability.

Receiving communities, on the other hand, benefit from the elixir of population growth. Planning is imperative but it’s a nice problem to have.

With thoughts like this plus fresh data with a point of view, TGE Demographics kicks off a new blog – Migration Stats: Untold Stories. Laser-focused on how migration drives local population change, the blog aims to engage readers in looking at both origin and destination communities through the lens of demography. Economic development officials (state and local) should gain insights into what’s working and what’s not based on population flows. Retail site location analysts should better understand the opportunities presented by growth and decline. Strategic investors will be able to parse the slow national economic growth trends into regional hot and cold spots. And the demographically curious will have opportunities to manipulate visual dashboards and take deeper drives into the data.

The blog will bring published sources (articles, research results, and the like) to bear on the topic. As well, TGE will bring original research to the table from such undertapped sources as the IRS, the US Census Bureau, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. There is vast store of information out there on migration and immigration that needs to see the “light of day.” A welcoming forum like this new blog might be just the place to present and critique it.

But beware dear reader, I have a point of view on the subject, though it’s pretty straightforward: While migration is often, and hopefully, positive for individuals and families, it needs to be understood by origin communities, especially specific communities within New York and other states, as a potential hindrance to economic development. Some would say I’m putting that mildly. Likewise, destination communities, those on the receiving end of positive demographic growth, need to adapt and make the best of opportunities provided by demographic growth. Knowing the trends as seen in migration stats and the stories they reveal can be a great first step toward a better future for all communities.

Tom ExterComment