Due to the high cost of living and the constantly changing tech industry, Anthony Giusti never had enough money to purchase a house.
He began to look elsewhere and settled on Houston last year.
"I can be a blue-collar entrepreneur in Houston." Giusti, who founded a house-painting company, said that Houston's housing market made it easy to move here.
According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday, Giusti was among the tens of thousands who evacuated some of the nation’s most expensive, densely-populated, and expensive metropolitan areas to seek out Sunbelt destinations in the first year of the pandemic.
The pandemic accelerated the migration of people to the South and West as well as slowing growth in the largest cities in the U.S.
New York was the leading U.S. metro area to see a mass exodus, losing almost 328,000 residents. People left for other places, even though there were new residents in the metro area from overseas and more births than deaths.
Los Angeles' metropolitan area lost nearly 176,000 residents. San Francisco saw a loss in population of more than 116,000, while greater Chicago lost 91,000 residents between 2020 and 2021. Tens of thousands of people moved away from the Washington, San Jose, Boston, Miami, and Miami areas.
The Dallas area saw a growth of more than 97,000 people, Phoenix experienced a jump of more 78,000, and Houston had 69,000 more residents. The Phoenix metropolitan area saw growth driven by people moving from other parts of the U.S., while Houston's births and migration drove it.
Giusti described Texas' lure as "Texas has something about it, a romantic thing with cowboys and there's also the idea hereof the Lone Star State."
After years of declining or slow growth, the U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2021 estimates showed that micro areas (defined as having a city with less than 50,000 inhabitants) had experienced a population increase from mid-2020 through mid-2021. People moving to these areas drove the small population gains, as many deaths outpaced births in many of them. The growth in micro-areas was led by Kalispell (Montana), Jefferson, Georgia, and Bozeman (Montana).
William Frey, a demographer, stated that he believes that the growth in micro areas and the decreases in metros will be temporary. This was due to the influx of people during the pandemic. Work-from-home arrangements allowed workers to stay home.
Frey, senior fellow at Brookings Institution's metropolitan program, Brookings Metro, said that although there is clearly a dispersion in the population, he believes it to be a temporary phenomenon. We are at the lowest level of immigration for a long time. This affects major metros such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This is going to change. We will return to normal with the natural decline."
There was a sharp increase in deaths that outpaced births between mid-2020 to mid-2021. Nearly three quarters of U.S. county experienced a natural decline in deaths exceeding births. This was up from 55.5% for 2020 and 45.5% for 2019. This trend was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and a slowed aging population.
"You have more elderly Americans, and the birth rates are low, so there aren't many children being born. Then you have COVID and it hits older adults most, often in rural regions without access to quality health care," Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer from the University of New Hampshire. It's almost like a perfect storm that caused this natural decline.
The largest natural declines in U.S. metro areas were experienced by Tampa and Pittsburgh, with an average of 10,000 residents. Pittsburgh lost almost 14,000 people because of the exodus. The Tampa area has grown because of the influx of over 45,000 residents. Jennifer Waldholtz, who moved to Tampa with her husband from Atlanta in 2020, is one example. They were previously residents of Orlando, but missed Florida's blue skies and palm trees.
"We wanted back to Florida. Waldholtz, who is involved in nonprofit development, said that it was state-specific. We loved Florida's way of life. It's a vibe. The way of life, sun, palm trees. But it's not politically.