Study: Migration Out Of Mass. Plummets Post-Recession

With its high number of colleges and universities, Massachusetts has long been an attractive destination for young adults. But the challenge has often been keeping them here once they graduate. A new study says the floundering economy may have accomplished that on its own.

Using data from the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service, the report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire says migration nationwide has fallen to a near standstill.

"What the recession is doing is essentially freezing people in place," said Kenneth Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute. "Because the job market is more precarious, people are more willing to stay put than they were during the very exuberant period of migration during the middle of the decade."

In Massachusetts, the numbers are clear. In 2005, the state saw a net loss of 51,000 people. In contrast, by April of 2010 that number had dropped to just 3,500.

Similar effects were felt nationwide. Florida, which had long been a destination for those leaving other parts of the country, saw its first net migration loss since 1946.

The data used does not account for immigrants from other countries or population growth from births, only the number of U.S. residents moving from state to state. Still, internal migration numbers within a country can have major effects.

"In many cases, the migrants that Massachusetts would lose, particularly to the south, tend to be higher-income migrants," Johnson said, "And so, it probably means that Massachusetts is holding on to more of its higher income population than it would otherwise have done."

Even once the economy improves, Johnson said he expects migration levels to stay below levels posted in the mid-2000's.

"This has been a sobering experience, especially for young adults who have had their lives delayed. They haven't married as much. They haven't had children...I think this is going to stay with them for a long time as they grow through their adulthood. This may have a permanent impact on the levels of migration in the United States," he said.

This program aired on October 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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