The nation's housing downturn has spread to the fastest growing counties in the sunbelt, where most saw reduced domestic migration in the year ending July 1, 2007, while more rural counties experienced population losses.
"Torrid population growth rates in Sun Belt metropolitan areas from Florida to Arizona, Nevada and California have slowed amid a severe downturn in the nation's housing market, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Census Bureau data (July, 2006 to July, 2007) released today."
"Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, says the new data reflect only "the front edge" of the housing crisis. "Next year at this time, I think you're going to see even more of a slowdown in domestic migration," he says.
"Bernard Markstein, senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders, agrees the housing slump is a likely factor. The slowdown is particularly acute in Florida, where William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution, says "growth stopped on a dime." Population growth dropped from an average of nearly 1,000 new residents a day from 2000-06 to about 530 a day in the latest 12-month period."
"Nearly twice as many counties lost population this decade as during the 1990s; 85% of them are rural...in America's heartland," says Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington.
[Editor's note: see the color-coded map of county-by-county national population trends.]