Where Americans Are Moving

Regular commenter and erstwhile blogger at Sideways Mencken Michael Reynolds passes along a Forbes interactive map titled “Where Americans Are Moving.”   It tracks IRS data for county-to-county moves for 2008.

Below is the graphic for Los Angeles County:

Two things strike me as interesting here.  First, the outward migration appears to be vastly outweighing the inward migration. Second, the outward flow is much more scattered than the inward flow.   Both of those surprise me, given the incredible attractiveness of Southern California.

It appears that, in 2008 at least, most of the people moving to LA were doing so from the Boston-New York-Washington corridor whereas most leaving LA were staying either on the West Coast or somewhere else in the Sun Belt.   I would have guessed that LA would be getting a much larger chunk of people from the Upper Midwest.    Maybe the graphic is just overwhelmed by population clusters.

Update:  Now with an actual link to the map!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Given the combination of the high cost of living, the stagnant economy, the taxes, and inconveniences that many of my friends from So. Cal talk about all the time, I’m not surprised at all.


  2. tfr says:

    Great. The IRS is tracking our locations.

  3. John Burgess says:

    Do you have a link to the interactive? I don’t see it at Mr Reynold’s site.

  4. TylerH says:

    While correct, this graph is deeply misleading. It only tracks tax-payers, ie citizens.

    California, and Los Angeles in particular, is a HUGE net generator of new US citizens. The IRS data does not track the hundreds of thousands of East Asians, South Asians, Central Americans, West Africans, Israelis, etc, that arrive at LAX every year and end up on IRS tax rolls some years later. However, if those new taxpayers move, or if whomever they buy their house from moves, THEN the IRS tracks the change.

    Until one can overlay the Naturalization data on this graph, it tells only a partial story.

    I would presume this effect also affects other major immigrant gateways like New York City, Houston, and, increasingly, Chicago & Atlanta.