The Census Bureau released in late March its population estimates for July 2013 to July 2014 for U.S. counties and metro areas. The statistics “suggest a renewed growth in outer suburban ‘exurban’ counties, propelled by domestic migration,” said William Frey of the Brookings Institution on April 8.

“The growth is perhaps a sign that the housing market is luring young adults out of the urban core, and it raises the possibility that the attraction of cities—registered for the last three years—may not be as permanent as some assumed,” Frey said. “Using a Brookings classification of counties associated with urban cores and suburbs within large metropolitan areas, we see for the first time since 2010 that exurban counties are growing faster than inner, urban-core counties nationally.

“[These locations] lie on the peripheries of a slew of large urban areas. [In 2010 to 2012] the nation’s urban cores lost only about 160,000 migrants annually. But out-migration from urban cores picked up to 363,000 in 2013-2014, and at the same time we see an uptick in in-migration to outer suburban and exurban counties—and greater population growth in these areas,” Frey added.

“Like the outer suburbs, entire metropolitan areas in the interior Sun Belt are gaining migrants too....Of the 11 greatest migration-gaining large metropolitan areas, all are located in the Sun Belt, and each gained more migrants in 2013-2014 than in the previous year.... These areas include the four Texas metropolitan magnets of Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio and two in Florida—Tampa and Orlando.

“Several of these, including Las Vegas, experienced the same boom-then-bust experience of Phoenix and Atlanta. While few areas are gaining migrants at the torrid pace experienced in 2005-2006, they are nevertheless showing clear signs of migration revival.”
Meanwhile, “many Snow Belt locations are experiencing increased out-migration,” Frey said.