Bloomberg Línea — The flight of the population from big cities in the US to the suburbs during what can be called the “Covid era” produced a great decline in the population of the main cities of the country, according to a survey by the Economic Innovation Group.
The possibility of remote work has led many individuals to relocate to less condensed areas, with the result that some cities saw a marked drop in population, which has been compensated for by immigrants arriving in the US as the pandemic subsided and borders began to reopen.
“Revised data from 2020 show that large urban areas experienced losses of 812,000 people between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. The rate of population loss in those states slowed almost to July 2022, a 12-month period during which urban states saw declines of only 70,000 residents,” the study cites.
By way of example, in the state of New York, Manhattan saw its population drop by nearly 100,000 residents, a 6% hit.
As international travel restrictions were lifted and visa issuances increased, net international migration to the US nearly tripled between 2021 and 2022, from 376,000 to more than one million people.
“The normalization of annual immigration levels was, in fact, the primary cause of US population growth more than doubling between 2021 and 2022.″
Large urban areas captured nearly two-thirds of the 635,000 net increase in international immigration between 2021 and 2022, while suburban areas benefited by nearly tripling their net immigration rate from 64,000 to 170,000.
Why did population movement occur in the US?
In 2022m a modest decline began to be seen in population losses in cities, but domestic outward-migration remains well above the rates experienced in the pre-pandemic years.
The main cause of what happened in the “Covid era,” and one of the most relevant factors in this population movement, is remote working, but according to another study by the Economic Innovation Group, these moves to work remotely were just a continuation of pre-pandemic trends where population declines were already occurring.
The survey shows that, as of November 2021, nearly four times as many people planned to move due to remote work than had already moved, providing some estimate that the long-term impact is still unfolding.
On the other hand, what began to happen more noticeably in the last few years is the property price gap between urban and suburban areas, with the former experiencing the largest increases.
“Remote work drove people to seek less dense locations, but among the rural and suburban areas they moved to, relative density played no role. In other words, they moved from high-density urban areas to areas that are relatively less dense, but not necessarily the least dense places overall,” the research says.
In conclusion, remote working, housing prices and the high cost of living in cities are contributing to this shift to less urban areas.