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October 2020

Seattle among cities with big drops in net arrivals

October 8, 2020

Seattle is among five cities with the steepest declines in net arrivals, according to new data from LinkedIn's Economic Graph team. The group analyzed city migration patterns amid the pandemic comparing April to August 2020 to the same period a year ago.

"Smaller metro areas are gaining, some famous big cities are slipping, and hints of de-urbanization can be found across the country," the Economic Graph team reported. Across the United States, city-to-city migration patterns have been redefined in recent months, stated George Anders, senior editor at large at LinkedIn.

New York City topped the list of cities with the sharpest decline in net arrivals (down 23.4%), edging out San Francisco (down 21.1%). Seattle was third on that list with a 10.6% drop, followed by Boston (-9.9%) and Portland, Ore (-9.67%).

As people reconsider where to live, some are choosing smaller cities as evidenced by net arrivals numbers. Jacksonville led the list of biggest gainers, registering a 10.7% increase in net arrivals. Other cities on that list were Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Milwaukee, and Kansas City, MO.

Some of the movement is circular, according to LinkedIn. Their inflow-to-outflow data indicate people leaving Boston most likely to opt for San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle.

Anecdotal information indicates some of the reasons people are forsaking life in bigger cities and once-coveted destinations:

  • "All of the things I loved about New York City kind of just disappeared because of COVID, one former resident who moved to Tampa, Fla. said in an interview.
  • Some affluent New Yorkers have relocated to second homes in rural areas. Whether those moves are temporary or permanent is not yet known.
  • The New York Times reports a surge of home-buying in New York's suburbs.
  • In the San Francisco Bay area where many tech companies have switched to an extended work-from-home-routine, employees are deciding "home" may be a few hundred miles from their workplace. The LinkedIn report noted schools near Lake Tahoe, about 200 miles from San Francisco, are swamped with applications from relocating Bay Area families.
  • "We don't need to be in Silicon Valley," says Robert Wood, chief executive officer of digital license-plate maker Reviver. He relocated the company earlier this year from the San Francisco suburb of Foster City to Sacramento. Wood cited lower costs and growing acceptance of a work-anywhere attitude in response to pandemic dislocations as spurring the decision.

The LinkedIn report acknowledged Seattle and Portland are still experiencing an overall influx of people, but at a lower rate than before. "Overall, though, a sizable share of departees is opting for somewhere smaller and more affordable."

The top 10 destinations for New Yorkers who plan to relocate include Miami, Charlotte, and Denver. Phoenix, Boise, and Bend, Ore. top the list for Seattleites who are moving.

LinkedIn's Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy. It is based on more than 690 million members, 36,000 skills, 50 million companies, 11 million open jobs, and 90,000 schools.

The LinkedIn Economic Graph Team analyzes data from user profiles and user activity to help people identify the skills they'll need to work in the future economy. It partners with governments and organizations worldwide to analyze labor markets, recommend policy solutions, and better connect people to opportunities.