Wed, June 26

Migration study shows Arizonans believe greener pastures in Texas

PHOENIX -- So where did your neighbors go when the state's economy tanked?

New figures Monday from the U.S. Census Bureau show a bunch of them headed west in 2009, in hopes of better times.

But the statistics also show that far more Californians decided to try their fortune here than Arizonans who moved there. So that does not count.

The real change appears to be a migration to the Lone Star State. More than 21,000 Arizonans decided to make Texas their new home.

And that far outstrips the number of Texans who opted to become Arizonans.

Marshall Vest, an economist at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, said some of the patterns are not surprising.

He pointed out that, other than California and Texas, some of the largest source of new Arizonans were from the upper Midwest.

Illinois alone sent more than 13,000 of its residents to Arizona. That's more than twice as many as the number of Arizonans who opted to go there.

And the nearly 11,000 folks from Michigan who moved to Arizona amount to more than three times the flow in the opposite direction.

Economics aside, proximity appears to be a factor in where people come from and where they go.

Aside from California, there was a pretty good net inflow into Arizona from New Mexico. Lots of folks also moved between Arizona and Nevada, with a small net positive into this state.

But the flow was decidedly away from Arizona when it came to Utah.

Vest said what surprise him were not the pure numbers but the breadth of the outward migration, with 18 states gaining more Arizonans than the number of their residents moving here.

"That's very unusual to see that,' he said. Vest said that, in a normal year, Arizona might be running negative numbers with only a half-dozen other states.

The bottom line for most moves, said Vest, is that people move where there are opportunities.

"In Texas, their economy is doing a lot better because they didn't have the housing bubble,' he said. Vest said the run-up of housing prices and the subsequent collapse occurred on both coasts "but it didn't reach the middle of the country.'

And yet, about 12,300 people opted to move from Texas to Arizona. So why they would do that?

"Good question,' Vest responded.

"People move for different reasons,' he continued. "Perhaps the people coming from Texas were retirees, where the jobs didn't matter.'