(NewsNation) — Many residents of northern and northwestern cities are choosing to move south for reasons that include high cost of living, surging crime rates and massive layoffs in the tech industry, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Last year, 1.3 million people moved to Southern states, with Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas seeing the most new residents.
During that same period, newly released data shows that shooting incidents in Seattle jumped by 19% and murders by 24%. Surging crime rates were seen across the country last year, with many law enforcement agencies focusing on bringing those numbers down in 2023.
Dr. Ron Sherman has been serving suburban Seattle for over three decades with his dental practice but has noticed a dwindling patient load.
“In the last three years, we probably lost about 25-30% of our practice. (People) just picked up and moved,” Sherman said. “We’ve just had an enormous amount of issues that have hit this city, that a lot of people were just finished and done,” he added.
Sherman’s office assistant, Irina G., was among those who moved.
“Seattle just became very unsafe. And having a child and wanting to expand our family, I just didn’t see us growing there in any kind of way,” Irina G. said. She and her family lived in Seattle for 22 years before recently moving to Texas. She also said homelessness and the high cost of living were factors in her family’s decision to move.
Migration has the popular Seattle suburb of Bellevue closing schools, prompting protests. Bellevue has seen enrollment drop by more than 9% in the past three years and the district is proposing the closure or consolidation of seven elementary schools.
“We want our kids to be able to grow up here too,” said Bellevue parent Viktor Navara, “We feel really lucky that we’re able to continue living here. It hasn’t been easy but we’ve been trying to make it work. And we stayed here because of the schools.”
While some parents are staying for the education, others say it is the factor driving them out.
“Everything that they’re implementing in schools, I don’t agree with that. That’s my job to teach my child what I want them to be,” said Irina G.
Washington state used to attract many Californians, but now people all along the West Coast are leaving for the South.
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institute, told NewsNation that this pattern of domestic migration out of northern cities is unusual. Frey said states like Washington and Oregon are typically “big gainers” of people migrating out of California.
Meanwhile, some demographers are saying the most recent census is not an accurate barometer due to COVID-19, remote work and the trend of young people living at home.
Adding to the outflow are major layoffs in the tech sector, including West Coast mainstays such as Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing.