One of the most pronounced trends of the 2000’s is now grinding to a temporary halt — the migration of the American population from the Northeastern and Midwestern rust belt to the more temperate sun belt states of the South and Southwest. Cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix had long been magnets for Americans fleeing the cold weather and lack of jobs up north for new and sunnier opportunities in the South. The recession, however, has put the brakes on this. From the New York Times:
Essentially, millions of Americans have become frozen in place, researchers say, unable to sell their homes and unsure they would find jobs elsewhere anyway. […]“When times get really hard it gets really hard for people to up and move,” said Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, who conducted the analysis. “People who might have left New York for North Carolina are staying put.”
Bad news. Weather aside, the pre-recession southward migration was driven by one key factor: jobs. For a poor family living in a crumbling city with bad schools and no future, the move south promised jobs and a lower cost of living; while plenty chose to remain, many sold their houses and headed south. Now, thanks in part to the collapsed housing market, many people can’t afford to escape.Perhaps in the next round of stimulus spending the federal government could offer relocation assistance grants so that more Americans could move to the states that still have an economy left.