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New Mexico is bucking the trend of slowing migration to the Sun Belt

According to a new study, migration from northern states to the Sun Belt has slowed in the past few years, putting a break on the population growth that has driven the region’s relatively strong economic performance.USA Today reports:

Net population gains from Americans moving to Arizona, Nevada and Florida from other states have been largely wiped out, according to migration data from the IRS. “This recession has been a sobering experience for Americans when it comes to migration,” says Kenneth Johnson, demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute who analyzed the data.

It’s also been a sobering experience for states that for decades have counted on more people moving in than out. At the peak of the boom in 2006, Nevada gained a net of more than 40,000 people. In 2009: a net loss of more than 4,000. Florida went from a handsome net gain from other states to a net loss.

Population growth spurred a construction boom in these states, and without more growth, a lack of demand is stifling recovery from the economic downturn. Much of the Sun Belt economy lacks strengths that northern states like Massachusetts have, including high-tech and other skilled industries which lift wages and fuel complementary job growth in other sectors of the economy.

Fortunately for New Mexico, the Carsey Institute found the Land of Enchantment has mostly preserved the migration other Sun Belt states have lost.

“New Mexico migration patterns remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2009,” Johnson told The New Mexico Independent in an email. “The number of in-migrants from other US states slowed from 62,100 to 60,700. Outmigration barely changed at all. So, New Mexico has done better than many other states at maintaining stable migration flows.”

Johnson says New Mexico has notably outperformed its fellow border state, Arizona, in preserving migration flows: “Arizona … has experienced a substantial loss of in-migrants and increase outmigration.”

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