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Recession Cuts Migration to Sun Belt, New Figures Show
Published: December 23, 2009

MIAMI — The Sun Belt states that grew like fertilized weeds during the real estate boom are now experiencing sharp declines in population growth, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

Those states are still projected to gain seats in Congress after the 2010 census, while industrial states in the Northeast are likely to lose seats.

But in yet another sign of the recession’s power to reshape established demographic trends, the new figures show that as of July, growth has slowed to a trickle in Arizona, while in Florida, Nevada and California, more Americans moved out than in.

“What we have is a decade of a roller coaster in terms of migration,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “If you look at the middle part of this decade, Florida led the country in net domestic migration. Now it’s in the negative part of the ledger.”

The shift is especially vivid in state rankings prepared by Mr. Frey. With the new numbers, his analysis shows, Florida now ranks 45th in domestic migration growth after ranking first from July of 2001 to July 2005. It lost 31,179 people to other states from July 2008 to July 2009.

In terms of its total growth rate with foreign arrivals included, Florida now ranks 32nd, down from third in 2002.

Similarly, Nevada has fallen to 17th on the total growth-rate list, after leading the country from 2000 to 2004. It now ranks 38th in domestic migration, losing 3,801 people after adding more than 170,000 from other states from July 2003 to July 2006.

Arizona dropped to eighth in overall growth rate, from first three years ago. . . . . .

. . . . . Texas, it seems, is the big winner. It added more people from home and abroad than any other state this year — 231,539. That is more than Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, combined.

Mr. Frey attributed this to a more diversified economy in Texas, and more conservative lending practices during the real estate boom. When combined with the state’s steady growth earlier in the decade, Texas is projected to receive three new seats in Congress, bringing its total to 35. . . . . . . .

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