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Where Do New Jersey’s Out-Migrating Millennials Go?

November 7th, 2018 by

What are the most common destinations, at the county level, for Millennials who move out of New Jersey? Part 2 of a series investigating where New Jersey’s out-migrating Millennials are going.

New Jersey Future intern Alexandra Rome assembled the data on which this analysis was based.

In part 1 of this series, we looked at the most common destinations, by county, for people of all ages who move from New Jersey to other parts of the United States. In part 2, we look specifically at where out-migrants of the Millennial generation – typically defined as those born between 1980 and 2000 – are going when they leave.

While the overall county-to-county migration flows used in the analysis in part 1 are produced by the Census Bureau on an annual basis, migration data broken out by age range are only tabulated every five years. For the present analysis, we are thus restricted to using data from the two years – 2010 and 2015 – for which migration data by age are available from the American Community Survey. We look only at out-migrants age 20 or older, under the assumptions that younger migrants are either 1) too young in most cases to be the person in charge of making the decision for a household to move, or 2) moving to attend college, in which case the relocation decisions are often temporary and their inclusion may obscure other important trends in the data.

For each of the two years, we used the standard age ranges that most closely correspond to the age ranges into which adult Millennials (age 20 or more) would fall at the time:

  • For 2015, we included out-migrants aged 20 to 34 (covering people born between 1981 and 1995, with the youngest Millennials mostly not yet of age to be making relocation decisions)
  • For 2010, we included out-migrants aged 20 to 29 (those born from 1981 to 1990; younger Millennials were not yet adults, while older age ranges at this point corresponded to older generations)

Combining the two years of data, there were 193,054 people age 20 or older who left New Jersey for another state in either 2010 or 2015. Roughly half of them (49 percent) were Millennials and the other half were from older generations.

The table below lists the top 30 destination counties for New Jersey out-migrants for each of the two age groups (Millennials vs. older generations), each of which attracted close to or more than 1,000 out-migrants in the indicated age group in the two years combined.

Top Destination Counties for Out-Migrants from New Jersey, by Age Group

Millennials Older Out-migrants
Rank Destination County Destination State Major City In County Destination County Destination State Major City In County
1 New York New York Manhattan Borough (NYC) New York New York Manhattan Borough (NYC)
2 Philadelphia Pennsylvania coextensive w/city of Philadelphia Palm Beach Florida West Palm Beach / Boca Raton
3 Kings New York Brooklyn Borough (NYC) Bucks Pennsylvania NE Philadelphia suburbs
4 Queens New York Queens Borough (NYC) Philadelphia Pennsylvania coextensive w/city of Philadelphia
5 Bucks Pennsylvania NE Philadelphia suburbs Northampton Pennsylvania Bethlehem
6 New Castle Delaware Wilmington Queens New York Queens Borough (NYC)
7 Montgomery Pennsylvania N/NW Philadelphia suburbs Broward Florida Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood
8 Bronx New York Bronx Borough (NYC) New Castle Delaware Wilmington
9 Northampton Pennsylvania Bethlehem Kings New York Brooklyn Borough (NYC)
10 Los Angeles California Los Angeles Maricopa Arizona Phoenix
11 Orange Florida Orlando Miami-Dade Florida Miami
12 Suffolk Massachusetts Boston Los Angeles California Los Angeles
13 District of Columbia District of Columbia Washington Wake North Carolina Raleigh
14 Broward Florida Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood Bronx New York Bronx Borough (NYC)
15 Middlesex Massachusetts Lowell / NW Boston suburbs Montgomery Pennsylvania N/NW Philadelphia suburbs
16 Delaware Pennsylvania W/SW Philadelphia suburbs Lee Florida Cape Coral / Fort Myers
17 Maricopa Arizona Phoenix Mecklenburg North Carolina Charlotte
18 Miami-Dade Florida Miami Orange Florida Orlando
19 Chester Pennsylvania W Philadelphia suburbs Chester Pennsylvania W Philadelphia suburbs
20 Westchester New York Yonkers / N suburban NYC Hillsborough Florida Tampa
21 Harris Texas Houston Fairfield Connecticut Bridgeport / Stamford / Danbury
22 Cook Illinois Chicago Westchester New York Yonkers / N suburban NYC
23 Fairfield Connecticut Bridgeport / Stamford / Danbury Monroe Pennsylvania Stroudsburg / far W exurban NYC
24 Mecklenburg North Carolina Charlotte Harris Texas Houston
25 Centre Pennsylvania State College Pinellas Florida St. Petersburg / Clearwater
26 San Diego California San Diego Montgomery Maryland N Washington DC suburbs
27 Montgomery Maryland N Washington DC suburbs Orange New York Newburgh / N suburban NYC
28 Hillsborough Florida Tampa Middlesex Massachusetts Lowell / NW Boston suburbs
29 Lehigh Pennsylvania Allentown Delaware Pennsylvania W/SW Philadelphia suburbs
30 Baltimore city Maryland Baltimore Cook Illinois Chicago

 

Top Destinations for Older Out-Migrants

Let us first look at the counties that appear on one list but not the other. Counties that rank in the top 30 destinations for older out-migrants but not for Millennials include Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Lee counties in Florida; Wake County, North Carolina; Orange County, New York; and Monroe County, Pennsylvania. The first three clearly illustrate Florida’s attractiveness as a retirement destination for older people from the Northeastern United States but not necessarily as a draw for young adults. Wake County in North Carolina is interesting in that it contains a well-known city (Raleigh) that is growing rapidly, but it is a city that has experienced most of its growth more recently and in a more car-dependent pattern than is typical of the kinds of places Millennials are seeking out. Finally, the detailed age data indicate that Monroe County, Pennsylvania (the Stroudsburg area, across the Delaware River from New Jersey along Interstate 80) and Orange County, New York (in the lower Hudson Valley) are attracting primarily middle-aged migrants, likely people who are still working at jobs in the New York metro area and may be in search of cheaper housing, though not necessarily in the same walkable urban settings that Millennials favor.

Top Destinations for Millennials

Counties that rank in the top 30 destinations for Millennials but not for older out-migrants include the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (which are both independent of any county and are statistically treated as county equivalents); Lehigh and Centre counties in Pennsylvania; Suffolk County, Massachusetts; and San Diego County, California. Even though we restricted our analysis to out-migrants age 20 or older, Centre County, Pennsylvania, can probably still be explained by Penn State University attracting graduate students and/or people starting college a few years later than standard. But the others (with the possible exception of San Diego County) are characterized by older, more densely populated urban areas that are particularly attractive to Millennials. Lehigh County is interesting, in that an argument could be made that it is simply experiencing the same influx of North Jersey commuters in search of cheaper housing that puts its Lehigh Valley neighbor Northampton County on the list. But while Northampton County appears on the list for both age groups, the more urbanized Lehigh County is particularly attracting Millennials.

We can be more systematic about identifying counties whose in-migrants from New Jersey are disproportionately in the Millennial generation. Recall that 49 percent of all out-migrants from New Jersey for 2010 and 2015 combined were Millennials. Where are the individual destination counties where this percentage is the highest? That is, in which counties do Millennials comprise the greatest shares of incoming New Jerseyans?

To avoid the analysis being thrown off by counties with very small and potentially unrepresentative flows, we considered only the 164 counties that received at least 100 migrants from New Jersey in the two years combined. Among these counties, the table below shows the top 30 counties in which Millennials made up the highest percentages of in-migrating New Jerseyans:

 

New Jersey Out-migrant Destination Counties with Flows Most Dominated by Millennials

Destination County Destination State Major City In County All NJ Out-migrants Age 20 or Older Millennials Older Generations Millennials as a Percentage of All Adult Out-migrants
York Virginia Yorktown / suburban Newport News 278 278 0 100.0%
Washington Rhode Island Westerly / Kingston 107 107 0 100.0%
Richmond Georgia Augusta 153 146 7 95.4%
Centre Pennsylvania State College 1,042 966 76 92.7%
Montgomery Ohio Dayton 154 141 13 91.6%
Durham North Carolina Durham 291 259 32 89.0%
St. Johns Florida St. Augustine 141 121 20 85.8%
District of Columbia District of Columbia Washington 1,513 1,281 232 84.7%
Davidson Tennessee Nashville 167 140 27 83.8%
Monongalia West Virginia Morgantown 154 129 25 83.8%
Hampshire Massachusetts Northampton 103 86 17 83.5%
Baltimore city Maryland Baltimore 1,045 860 185 82.3%
Tompkins New York Ithaca 309 240 69 77.7%
Lackawanna Pennsylvania Scranton 1,050 812 238 77.3%
Lake Illinois Waukegan / N suburban Chicago 152 117 35 77.0%
Pulaski Missouri Fort Leonard Wood 102 78 24 76.5%
Providence Rhode Island Providence 1,054 795 259 75.4%
Cuyahoga Ohio Cleveland 472 352 120 74.6%
St. Louis County Missouri W suburban St. Louis 113 84 29 74.3%
Erie New York Buffalo 163 121 42 74.2%
Oakland Michigan Troy / Pontiac / NW Detroit suburbs 294 214 80 72.8%
Suffolk Massachusetts Boston 2,056 1,449 607 70.5%
Norfolk city Virginia Norfolk 240 169 71 70.4%
Chittenden Vermont Burlington 128 90 38 70.3%
New Hanover North Carolina Wilmington 151 105 46 69.5%
Monroe New York Rochester 678 467 211 68.9%
Philadelphia Pennsylvania coextensive w/ city of Philadelphia 11,445 7,819 3,626 68.3%
Prince George’s Maryland E suburbs of Washington DC 849 579 270 68.2%
New York New York Manhattan Borough (NYC) 19,174 12,694 6,480 66.2%
Hennepin Minnesota Minneapolis 232 153 79 65.9%

 

In all of these counties, at least two-thirds of in-migrants arriving from New Jersey are Millennials, compared to only about half of New Jersey’s overall outflow being Millennials. These counties are clearly disproportionately attracting Millennials from New Jersey relative to people in older age ranges.

What characteristics do these counties possess that might be making them particularly attractive to the current generation of young adults? Keen observers will note a few counties on this list that are probably attracting young adults because they are home to a major institution (like a university or a military facility) that attracts young adults by its very nature. In the next installment, we will attempt to remove some of these “outlier” counties that are disproportionately attracting young adults because of a particular institution within their borders rather than because of the characteristics of the host county itself. We will then examine the remaining counties that attract high rates of New Jersey Millennial out-migrants to see how they compare to the full spectrum of New Jersey out-migrant destinations.


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