By: Sam Roberts
March 23, 2010
Americans stung by the recession and the burst housing bubble hunkered down as the decade ended. As a result, hot spots in the South and the West that had surged in population after 2000 grew more slowly or lost migrants to other places, according to census data released Tuesday.
Phoenix, which was drawing 100,000 new residents at mid-decade, gained only 12,000 in the 12 months ending July 1, 2009.
Demographers said the decline in mobility reflected both the breadth of the recession -- there were no jobs to move to -- and the likelihood that retirees were saddled with homes they could not sell or were forced by shrunken savings to delay retirement.
While the typical population magnets lost their pull, metropolitan Boston registered its first gain in migration from elsewhere in the United States since at least 1990. Washington reversed its migration loss, and New York recorded its lowest loss since at least 1990.
Metropolitan Los Angeles lost about 80,000 people to other places from July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009, about a third of its annual loss in mid-decade. And metropolitan Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago registered reduced losses.
Houston, which has been the leader in attracting newcomers from other places in the nation, drew even more in the latest year, defying the decline recorded in Atlanta and, to a lesser degree, in Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Tex.
"These new data show that the migration slowdown continues and may not let up in the foreseeable future," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
An analysis by Kelvin Pollard and Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau found that counties that typically draw an influx of people ages 60 and older grew at 1.7 percent from 2007 to 2009, compared with an annual average of 3.1 percent from 2000 to 2007.
Since 2000, three metropolitan counties nearly doubled their population: Kendall, near Chicago; Pinal, near Phoenix; and Rockwall, near Dallas.