Americans went through a great migration after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, it has not ended.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans left large cities and moved to smaller ones. Among the reasons were people did not think large cities were safe as the virus continued to spread. (At this point the new BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 variants have caused another spike). And, as millions of Americans started to work from home, many became more mobile and able to live where they wanted to.
From March to November 2020, at the height of the pandemic, about 5% of Americans moved either permanently or temporarily, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. A full third of those people moved for financial reasons, 17% moved to be near family or a partner, and 14% moved to a place with a lower coronavirus risk.
To identify America’s fastest-growing metro area during the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed population change data from the U.S. Census Bureau. We ranked all U.S. metro areas on the percent change in residents from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021. The fastest-growing metros added anywhere from 1.5% to 5.1% during the pandemic.
The components of population change are net migration – the number of people who moved to a given metro area less the number of people who move out – and natural population change, which is the number of births less the number of deaths. (Due to margins of error in census estimates, the raw population change number is close to, but not precisely equal to, the sum of net migration and natural population change.)
The trend during the pandemic continued the longer-term of Americans moving to Sun Belt states, mostly from the Northeast to the South and the West. This was no different among the fastest growing metros.
The city with the largest post pandemic population increase was St. George, UT. Here are the details:
> Net population change, 2020-2021: +5.1% (+9,302 people)
> Net change from migration: +9,204 people
> Natural population change: +237
> Total population, 2021: 191,226
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