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Population Flowing to Mid-Sized Metros in the Sunshine State

Following up on the large metro migration analysis we did last week, we now look at the migration patterns for the mid-sized metros with populations between 500,000 and 1 million.

Again, using the U.S. Census Bureau's recently released population estimates, we first take a look at total population change between 2016 and 2017.

The five mid-sized metros in Florida (Lakeland, Cape Coral, North Port, Deltona and Palm Bay) stand out in the map below. Each saw their populations grow by more than 11,000. Lakeland Florida saw the greatest increase of the mid-sized metros growing by 19,465. Boise Idaho was second at 19,035 followed by Cape Coral, North Port and Provo Utah.

Six mid-sized metros lost population between 2016 and 2017. Honolulu declined by 4,111. Youngstown lost 2,617. Syracuse, Baton Rouge, Toledo and Jackson also saw declines.

Total population change includes natural growth (births minus deaths) and net migration (people who moved in minus those who moved out). We pay special attention to net domestic migration since it can be something of a proxy for perceived opportunity. If someone willingly moves to a metro from another part of the country it is often because they are seeking more and better economic opportunities. However, people move for many reasons. Retirement is one, and one that is undoubtedly behind the large net domestic migration numbers in the aforementioned mid-sized Florida metros. Those 5 metros account for 5 of the top six in terms of net domestic migration between 2016 and 2017. Boise, ranking fourth, keeps it from being a Florida sweep.

Other domestic migration hotspots include metros in the Carolina's and eastern Tennessee (Charleston SC, Knoxville TN, Greenville SC) as well as the intermountain west (Colorado Springs, Provo, Ogden and Spokane). Fayetteville AR and Des Moines IA also saw strong domestic migration.

We often write about the increasingly competitive "winner-take-all" economy. It can be difficult to measure just how competitive a metro's economy is, but looking at their domestic migration is a good place to start.

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