Post-Recession Migration Patterns of Younger and Older Americans

New census data shows that millennials and seniors are migrating less, a result of the Great Recession and its economic impacts. For those who are moving, cities in the Sun Belt have been primary destinations.

February 15, 2019, 8:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Seattle Downtown

N i c o l a / Flickr

Demographer William H. Frey writes about the migration trends of millennials and Baby Boomers after the Great Recession, evident in new American Community Survey data. Migration rates for both groups slowed during and after the recession, reflecting the job and housing challenges millennials have faced and the delayed retirement and relocation limitations of seniors, says Frey.

Migration magnets for millennials are largely Sun Belt cities in the South and West. Baby Boomers also have headed to the Sun Belt, but none of the top five cities for each group overlapped, notes Frey. While both groups are leaving high-cost metropolitan areas, particularly on the coasts, millennials are spreading out across the country while seniors are focusing on the more traditional retirement states of Arizona and Florida.

"Millennials are more mobile than their elders and more apt to shift with changing opportunities, particularly to areas with knowledge based economies. In contrast, those seniors who do move are zeroing in on a smaller set of exclusively Sun Belt destinations that have long been associated with retirees, warm climates and recreation," concludes Frey.

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