Americans are heading South and West again in search of jobs and more affordable housing, as the nation’s economic health continues to improve.
Census population estimates show that the 16 states and the District of Columbia that comprise the South saw an increase of almost 1.4 million people between 2014 and 2015. The 13 states in the West grew by about 866,000 people.
The gains represent the largest annual growth in population of the decade for both regions and signal that the multi-decade migration to the Sun Belt has resumed after being interrupted by the Great Recession of 2007-09 and the economic sluggishness and anxiety that followed.
In comparison, population growth in the Northeast and the Midwest — including what’s known as the Snow Belt — remained sluggish, growing by about 258,000 residents combined.
“Clearly, the Snow Belt-to-Sun Belt migration is coming back after a huge lull in response to the recession and post-recession period,” said demographer William Frey, of the Brookings Institution. “Up until now, regional migration was not picking up at the same time that other economic indicators — jobs and housing — seemed to be on the upswing.”
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