It’s just a decade since the worst recession in modern history froze many Americans in place, but the number of people with enough economic security to move is starting to rise once again, according to new population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Those estimates indicate more Americans are moving from Rust Belt and Northeastern cities, including some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. They are heading towards the booming cities and suburbs across the Sun Belt and the West Coast.
“The economy has gotten better. People are not hunkering down anymore, especially young millennials who were put in a vice in the beginning of this decade,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
After years of decline, rural America is starting to reap the benefits of a more mobile population. The number of Americans who live in nonmetropolitan, or rural areas grew by about 37,000 residents in the last year. This is a relatively small increase, but one that represents a major shift from years just after the recession when so many people moved out of rural communities in favor of larger cities.
Ken Johnson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy, said the increase in rural America came in two types of communities. The first is those that are adjacent to larger cities, and the second is those that have become hubs for outdoor recreation.
“Some of this may be sprawl, but there are also a significant number of people and businesses who prefer to live in rural areas, but close enough metro areas to take advantage of the proximity of [a] metro economy and services,” Johnson said.
The Census Bureau figures show Texas continues to grow at a very fast pace. Four of the ten counties that have grown the fastest since 2010 are in Texas.
Nine of the ten of the counties that added the largest number of residents are in Sun Belt states like Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida; the tenth is home of Seattle, where a tech boom is fueling mammoth new growth.