Tampa remains top migration destination; US Census explores reasons to move

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Census Bureau is tracking how people move across the…

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Census Bureau is tracking how people move across the country. Migration plays a part in how federal dollars are awarded state-by-state, as well as how Congressional power is held. To look at America’s changing demographics, the bureau began its report with questions.

“How much does one’s location during childhood determine the labor markets that one is exposed to in young adulthood? In response to potential wage gains, do people migrate substantial distances from their childhood home?” the research study asks.

Answering the questions, the publication looked at what it called commuting zones, or where people will drive to and from for economic reasons, regardless of city or county boundaries.

The Census Bureau reported that almost 70% of individuals who are age 26 live in the commuting zones they grew up in. In Tampa, 63% of young adults remained in the commuting zone there. However, that’s not to say people weren’t moving in from across the U.S., from urban areas as well as rural.

At the end of 2021, the Florida Legislature estimated that nearly 850 people move to Florida every day.

Tampa was a top destination, shown through population growth and housing crunches. Now with new Census data, federal officials say that young adults who chose to move to Tampa moved farther than the national average to get there, seeking new places to work and live.

Additionally, even in the state of Florida, which is seeing large home sales and moving levels all over, Tampa remained the highest proportion for places people were buying homes. 15% of the state’s home purchases were in the Tampa area.

A recent report from real estate company Redfin found that Tampa was in the list of top places people were moving to, even though many of those areas also have the highest inflation rates in the country.

“Four U.S. metros experienced double-digit inflation in the second quarter–Phoenix, Atlanta, Tampa, FL and Miami–and all four were among the most popular migration destinations” for Redfin’s users, the report said. Another publication from Redfin said Florida was seeing more homebuyers come to the state than a year ago, and that migration was only picking up.

“Tampa is still attracting a lot of out-of-state homebuyers, coming from places like New York, who can get more for their money in Florida,” Eric Auciello, a Redfin manager in Tampa, said. “The spike in mortgage rates has priced some buyers out of the market, but it has also helped ease competition and curb bidding wars between locals and out of towners. A lot of buyers who kept getting outbid at the peak of the market are now getting their offers accepted, and in some cases they’re even able to use FHA loans, make smaller down payments and keep the appraisal contingency.”

The top areas people moved from were other parts of the state, as well as other states themselves. The bureau reported 12% of people moving to Tampa came from Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Lakeland, Port St. Lucie, Cape Coral, Ocala, Jacksonville, and Palm Bay, all cities in Florida.

“The average young adult who moved to Tampa moved from an area about 267 miles away for their job,” the Census Bureau reported. “That is 85 miles above the national average.”

The top areas in other states that had young adults move to Tampa were from New York City, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, and the District of Columbia. Those areas made up about 7% of the out-of-state locations that fed the Tampa migration.

Examining the migration to areas all around the country, the Census Bureau looked for common factors that influenced moving decisions. The bureau prioritized wage growth, construction of homes, and the impacts of price changes in different areas, when compared to the communities young adults grew up in.

The overall analysis published by the Census Bureau, written by Census staff and Harvard University researchers, showed that young adults were willing to move for a 2% increase in annual wages, while “approximately 99% of wage gains flow to those who would have resided in the CZ in the absence of the wage change.”

The 2% increase in yearly wages equaled roughly $1,600 per year, according to the study abstract. Still, the study also found that dependent on where workers moved, some did “not reap the full benefits of nominal wage changes.”

Economically, wage increases have not grown at the same pace as price increases, and with inflation remaining historically high, the impact of higher salaries is reduced. The study also said “migration response to real wages across places with high and low housing supply elasticities” had an effect on price responses by those migrating to different locations across the U.S.

Housing supply has remained a challenge, due to both low inventory and slowed construction as a result of higher prices and supply chain problems delaying the delivery of materials.