Biggest Gainers and Losers: Black Interstate Migration in 2007

The Pew Research Center web site has prepared an excellent presentation showing population migration patterns in the United States. The presentation shows which states are gaining and losing population, and provides detailed information at the ethnic group level.

The Pew report has migration information that goes back to 1975-80, but for this blog entry, I am focusing on 2007. The following table shows net migration information that year, which is taken from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Net Interstate Migration for Selected States in 2007.
Source: Pew Research Center: COMINGS & GOINGS: Migration Flows in the U.S.
Note: This does not show numbers for Asian Americans or Native Americans.

There’s lots of interesting stuff here. The biggest black population gains are in Georgia, Texas, and the Southeast. The biggest losses are in New York, Louisiana, California, and the industrial Midwest. Here are a few comments.

• Georgia continues to be the biggest magnet for black migrators. The Atlanta area has been growing by leaps and bounds, and now sends three African Americans to the US Congress.

The influx of blacks could have political implications on a state-wide level. Last November, many were surprised when Barack Obama got 47% of the state’s vote in the presidential election, despite not doing much in the way of campaigning or advertising. Georgia is close to being 30% black, and the black folks here – especially in the Atlanta area – are politically active.

Georgia is not an unlikely place for a black governor or senator, if the right person comes along. Twelve-year Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who is African American, has announced that he’s in the race for governor’s seat in 2010. I don’t know if he’s the right person, but he is in it at least.

• The huge black migrations to Texas and from Louisiana are the result of the same thing: Hurricane Katrina. Katrina depopulated huge swaths of the New Orleans area, and many former residents moved to Houston, Dallas/Ft Worth, and eastern Texas.

The large population loss in Louisiana will probably mean that the state will lose a congressional seat following the 2010 Census. There have already been discussions about how to handle the state’s majority black congressional district, which is centered around New Orleans. That area was represented for years by former congressman William Jefferson. The current congressman there is Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, who is first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress.

Some have suggested creating a new district that will combine the black neighborhoods of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. That would preserve a black majority district, but it would remove Democrats from surrounding districts, and make it easier for Republicans to win the state’s other congressional seats.

• You wouldn’t think that Minnesota would be a hot spot for black migrators. But in 2007, that state had a net gain of 18,000 African American residents – even though it lost a net of 29,000 residents for the year. Minnesota undoubtedly picked up some of the masses of black folks who left the industrial Midwest (Illinois, Ohio, Michigan) and who aren’t intimidated by cold weather.

• Maryland is another state that gained additional black residents (18,000 net gain in 2007) even though the state had a net loss of residents (-59,000) overall.

Maryland’s gain is surely related to the net loss of 37,000 black residents in the District of Columbia. Black flight from the District to Maryland has been going on for decades. What’s new in the District is the recent influx of whites, who are gentrifying the city’s black neighborhoods.

• Florida grew by almost 200,000 residents in 2007, but only 10,000 of those were African American. Georgia, which borders Florida, is probably seen as a better destination for black migrants.

But other states on the SE coast have gained too. North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina all saw population gains in 2007. But we’ll see if that lasts: the recession has hit the mid-Atlantic South hard. South Carolina has the country’s second highest unemployment rate. The migration numbers could be radically different for this year or the next one.

• Arizona and Nevada have seen growth in their black populations, probably due in part to the ongoing exodus from California.

• The population losses in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois are emblematic of ongoing problems in the manufacturing industries in the Midwest. The current recession will probably add to the bleeding.

• New York… wow! The state lost 181,000 blacks in 2007, and 838,000 residents overall. The state is poised to lose seats and clout in the Congress, and the problems of Wall Street are adding to the state’s current budget woes.

New York, symbolized by Harlem, was once the mecca of black America. But now, everybody’s trying to get out. How sad.

One thought on “Biggest Gainers and Losers: Black Interstate Migration in 2007

  1. I live in New York. What is going on is sad because of gentrification and the rising cost of living all over New York City (including the boroughs) and in the surrounding areas such as Westchester County.

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