Restless America: Visualizing Interstate Migration Patterns

Independent data journalist Chris Walker used migration figures from the US Census American Community Survey (ACS) to create an interactive graphic of migration patterns among states in 2012.


Walker describes his graphic as "a circle cut up into arcs, the light-colored pieces along the edge of the circle, each one representing a state. The arcs are connected to each other by links, and each link represents the flow of people between two states. States with longer arcs exchange people with more states (California and New York, for example, have larger arcs). Links are thicker when there are relatively more people moving between two states. The color of each link is determined by the state that contributes the most migrants, so for example, the link between California and Texas is blue rather than orange, because California sent over 62,000 people to Texas, while Texas only sent about 43,000 people to California. Note that, to keep the graphic clean, I only drew a link between two states if they exchanged at least 10,000 people."

Overall, Florida and Texas were the states that gained the most migrants--each attracted more than 100,000 people more from other states than they lost to other states. On the other hand, nearly 136,000 more people left the state of New York than moved there.



Other notable patterns (as described by Walker):

  • There are more people leaving California than there are arriving there. 566,986 people left the Golden State in 2012, for states like Texas, Nevada, Washington, and Arizona, presumably for the lower cost of living.
  • New York also shows more people leaving than arriving. The most popular destination for New Yorkers is Florida. My hunch is that these are retirees. The next most popular destinations are New Jersey and Pennsylvania. More likely these folks are leaving pricey New York City for more affordable suburbs in neighboring states.
  • Migrants are flocking to Florida. Interestingly the state contributing the most migrants to Florida is neighboring Georgia. Texas, New York, and North Carolina are the next largest contributors.
  • Texas is the second-largest destination for migrants. Over 500,000 people moved to Texas in 2012. People tend to come from the Southeast, Southwest, and the West, with the biggest contributor being California. 62,702 Californians packed up and moved to the Lone Star state in 2012.
  • Most people leaving DC tend to stay in the area, opting for Virginia or Maryland. The economy of DC, centered around the federal government, seems to discourage more distant migrations.
  • The migrants who leave two very cold states, Maine and Alaska, have very clear preferences. Their most popular destinations are Florida and California.


Read more:
http://vizynary.com/2013/11/18/restless-america-state-to-state-migration-in-2012/
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/11/mapping-migration-without-a-map/
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/22/chart-of-the-week-americans-on-the-move/
https://www.census.gov/acs/www/

TeachingwithData.org resources:
US Census Data Visualization Gallery (http://www.census.gov/dataviz/)
Net Migration Statistics (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_net_mig-immigration-net-migration)
Residential Mobility and Migration (http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/ssdan/examples/31599.html)
Immigration in the US (http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/ssdan/examples/31598.html)
Migration Service Lesson Plan (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3291)
Frederique Laubepin

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