Shipping Up to Boston

Over at Forbes, Jon Bruner has put together a great interactive map of America’s migration patterns based on IRS data. Above is a screenshot for Suffolk County — blue lines show a net migration into Boston, while red lines show a net migration out of the city. (Click here to check out the full interactive map; it’s well worth spending a few minutes with. Here’s Middlesex County‘s version.)

The obvious question is where are people coming from and moving to? The answer is what you’d expect: The Northeast. New England is a swarm of activity, with people bouncing in and out of town from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Connecticut. The New York and Philadelphia metro areas are also hot moving spots, as are most major cities in America: About 500 Boston residents moved to Los Angeles, while we pulled in almost 300 from Miami. Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago also saw a lot of Boston turnover. Clearly, we’re a city-dwelling folk.

Unfortunately, there are a few concerning conclusions to be drawn from the data: Overall, more people left Boston between 2005 and 2009 than moved here; the only reason that our population has continued its slow rise is due to birth rates. In recent years, that outbound migration has slowed, but that’s most likely due to the recession: It’s harder to risk a move across the country during a down time, while selling your house in a rough market is a tough proposition. Also troubling is the fact that while people moving out of the city were making an average of $42,000, new residents only averaged $37,000, meaning we’re losing higher income earners — and all those tax dollars.