Dear Friends of History,

Here at the American Business History Center, we usually focus on the long-term view, going back decades.

But today, for a change of pace, we take a look at very recent history….the 2010’s.

Here is one of our “bar race charts” created using which shows which U.S. metropolitan areas gained the most population in each year from 2011 through 2018, using the Census Bureau’s annual estimates.

Even in a short period like this, you can see shifts which are important to the geographical evolution of the economy and business.  At the start, both New York and Los Angeles were still growing, but quickly faded away.  As Americans moved to the “sunbelt,” the rise of Texas and other southern and western cities is apparent.  As of today, there is no indication these trends will slow down.

These changes result from three factors:

  1. Natural increase – the number of births minus deaths.  Cities with older populations fade, while those with young families grow.  But even more important in understanding change are the other two factors:
  2. Domestic migration – Americans moving to cities with strong economies and job opportunities are tremendous magnets, with New York, Los Angeles, and other older giants losing out.
  3. International migration – most new arrivals in our country come to cities they have heard of, or where they have family.  As a result, New York, Los Angeles, and others continue to attract “foreigners” even as they lose people who already know America.  Without the newcomers from “abroad,” those cities would be seeing severe declines in population.  At the same time, places like Houston attract large numbers of both domestic and international migrants.

We hope you enjoy today’s animated chart (above). Click here to view it in full screen.

Gary Hoover
Executive Director, American Business History Center

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