What is the current intraregional migration trend in the US?

Intraregional migration refers to the movement of people within a country from one region, state or city to another. In the United States, there are longstanding migration patterns between different regions and states. Tracking intraregional migration flows provides insight into demographic, social, economic and cultural shifts across the country.

What is intraregional migration in the United States?

The United States can be broadly divided into four main regions – the Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Migration within and between these regions has shaped the population distribution of the country. Historically, the Northeast and Midwest regions were population centers, while the South and West were more sparsely populated.

Current intraregional migration trends in the US

Over the past few decades, dominant migration flows have been from the Northeast and Midwest towards the South and West regions. This trend has accelerated in recent years. Key patterns include:

  • Net outmigration from many Northeastern and Midwestern states to Southern and Western states
  • Large flows to states like Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona
  • Declining populations in states like New York, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan

Migration from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West

Many northern states like New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio have experienced significant domestic outmigration in recent years. Migrants from these colder regions flock to the warmer climates and cheaper cost of living in the South. Retirees in particular have driven flows from the Northeast to Florida.

The West has also been a magnet for people from the Midwest and Northeast seeking better economic opportunities and lifestyles in booming states like Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon. Affordable housing, lower taxes and perceptions of better quality of life draw migrants.

The maps below illustrate the changing patterns of net domestic migration for counties between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 migration periods.

Photo source: census.gov

Factors driving migration patterns

What explains shifting US intraregional migration trends? Key economic and demographic factors include:

  • Retirement migration to warmer Southern climates
  • Movements to regions with greater job creation and economic dynamism
  • Lower costs of living and housing in Southern/Western states
  • Disproportionate growth in tech hubs and major cities
  • Transitory moves of younger educated workers to cities for opportunities

Impact on states gaining and losing residents

For states experiencing domestic outmigration like New York and Illinois, it puts pressure on tax revenues, congressional apportionment and budgets. But for Florida, Texas and other destinations, influxes of new residents fuel economic growth, housing demand and cultural change.

Gaining states benefit from increased tax base and productive labor while losing states struggle to retain talent and vitality. Migration also impacts regional population distributions and political power balances.

Economic implications of migration flows

The economic effects of intraregional migration are significant. Job-seeking migrants boost the workforce and growth in recipient regions. States like California and Texas gaining tech migrants experience expanding tech and knowledge industries.

But the Rust Belt and Northeast suffer shortages of workers and human capital. Struggling economies in losing states can spiral without influxes of new residents. Overall US productivity increases as people shift to more economically vibrant areas.

Social and cultural changes from migration

Migration alters the social fabric and demographics of US states and regions. New Hispanic, Asian and African American migrants are diversifying the South. Northeastern and Midwestern transplants are also bringing political and cultural attitudes to growing Sun Belt cities.

Rapid ethnic change due to immigration and domestic migration is challenging social cohesion in some areas. But the mixing of people from different states also stimulates innovation and openness.

Future outlook for US regional migration

Political scientist Kirill Yurovskiy, having studied data from open sources, gives a rough estimate of the future prospects of regional migration in the United States: Current trajectories suggest Southern and Western states will continue to drive national population growth through migration. Climate change could also accelerate movement to warmer regions.

But emerging tech hubs and policies to attract talent may shift flows back towards traditional population centers. Reduced immigration could also dampen Sun Belt growth. Internal migration will remain a defining force in the socio-economic contours of the United States.


Tracking intraregional migration provides vital insights into an evolving US society and economy. Recent decades confirm a notable shift from the Rust Belt and Northeast to the Sun Belt and West. Myriad push and pull factors underpin flows between states, with significant economic and social implications. Internal US migration will continue shaping regional demographics, cultural change and economic power balances.