A few days ago, I published an interactive map of American migration on Forbes.com. Since then, it’s become more popular than I could have possibly imagined. It’s been shared 5,000 times on Facebook and written about by The Economist, three different Atlantic blogs, three different New York Times blogs, and basically the entire “-ist” franchise (Gothamist, Chicagoist, DCist, and so on)–plus 1,700 other blogs and publications of various sorts. It’s broken Forbes‘s record for interactive content. To say I’m grateful for the reception would be a profound understatement.
Part of the reason that readers have enjoyed the map, I think, is that it confirms graphically what people have long known or suspected about regional trends based on either hard statistics or gut feelings: that the Pacific Northwest is being flooded with Californians, that Florida is suffering from brain drain, that Los Angeles no longer has the universal draw that it had during much of the 20th century, and that Detroit is in serious trouble and Dallas is doing rather well for itself.
At a higher level, the map confirms that the United States is a highly mobile country: one in which the lack of jobs in Detroit and the surfeit of them in Dallas draws massive numbers of people (806 of them, in fact, moved to the Dallas region from Wayne County; 167 went the other way). Commentators have offered theories of how taxes, costs of living, and quality of life create patterns on this map as well. Americans know what they like, and they’ll move to get it.
In skimming through the astonishing number of comments that people have posted (mostly to sites other than Forbes.com), I’ve come across a few persistent questions that I’ll answer here before explaining how the map works. READ MORE >