An interactive map tracks movement between metro areas from 2004-2010.

There’s obviously a lot of talk about the rural-to-urban shift that’s underway in countries all over the world. The majority of people now live in urban areas, and that’s not expected to change. But many countries have had urban majorities for decades. The United States, for example, has an urban population near 80 percent. So while there’s certainly some rural-to-urban migration happening, most of the movement in the U.S. is urban-to-urban.

A new interactive map from the Urban Institute’s MetroTrends research team breaks down these movements, watching population changes in and between the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. between 2004 and 2010. (This is the latest in a series of worthwhile maps from MetroTrends, which has recently looked at economic security and job growth by sector in metropolitan areas.)

(Click through to access the interactive version of the map)

The data is derived from the Internal Revenue Service, which tracks year-to-year address changes on individual income tax returns. It does not account for movement between counties within the same metropolitan area, nor does it include migration flows from or to foreign countries. The data can be viewed for single year changes, or for the entire 2004-2010 period.

The map highlights some interesting changes in the country, especially before and after the housing crash, and throughout the economic downturn. Instantly noticeable is the high concentration of net loss of migration in population centers in the northeast, the Rust Belt and California. Six of the 10 most populous cities in the country saw a net loss of migration between 2004 and 2010.

Between 2004 and 2010, the biggest losers include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and New Orleans. The biggest gainers include Austin, Las Vegas, Raleigh, Portland, and many of the metro areas in Florida

It’s also interesting to see how these trends change from year to year. For example, most of the migration in this time period occurred before the housing crash and economic downturn. After 2008, the amount of people moving and the differentials between in- and out-flows have become much smaller.

For each metropolitan area, the map includes information on the top three metro sources of in-migration and the top three metro locations for out-migration. Tracking these over time creates a vivid picture of not only population dynamics but also of the relative strengths and attractive powers of certain metropolitan areas.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Perspective

    In a Pandemic, We're All 'Transit Dependent'

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  2. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  5. Equity

    What Bigotry Looks Like During Social Distancing

    As reports of harassment and assault against Asian Americans increase, community advocates are finding new ways to tackle the spread of xenophobia.

×