This is a summary of data presented by Thomas Cooke, Professor of Geography at the University of Connecticut and also a subsequent paper published by Manisha Srivastava in the December 2016 issue of the CT Economic Digest

We had our second forum in November -- with over 20 people present from all sectors, and unfortunately with our big conference in December and the holidays, I’m just writing the summary now! However, it’s timely as we start a new legislative session and decisions and anecdotes start to travel and whip through the halls of the Capitol and make their way to our news outlets.


First, it’s important to put the migration of residents into and out of Connecticut in the context of what is happening at the national level. As depicted in the graphic below, nationally the rate for both types of migration (between states and within states) has been on the decline. In fact, most recently the rate of migration has been at it’s lowest level and only a small percentage of people move. The bottom line is that people are moving less.


Let’s look closer at what is happening in Connecticut. In the media, the steady drumbeat that gets promulgated is that Connecticut is losing population. However, that is not entirely what is happening when you look at the data. If one only looks at DOMESTIC migration patterns, then one can say there is a net out-migration of people.


The chart below illustrates average net Domestic migration from 2001 to 2014 for regions in the United States. The black squares represent the average of net migration from 2001 to 2014 and the bars represent the maximum and minimum that occurred in any one year during the time period covered. Connecticut’s migration is not dissimilar to that experienced by other New England states. However, the variance is bigger in terms of the highs and lows within each year (see graph below. Source: IHS, Census Population Estimates; as printed in CT Economic Digest, December 2016).


But it doesn’t make sense when trying to understand inflows and outflows of people to disaggregate the data by domestic and international. When international migration is factored in, Connecticut’s net migration is positive. And although this was presented at the first forum, Professor Cooke looked at the migration patterns of working age adults with a college degree. This was to dispel the stereotype of what constitutes international migration.


With the context of general migration rates (lowest levels in more recent years) and net in-migration for Connecticut (with international migration playing an important role in Connecticut), for our second forum, we decided to take a deeper dive into the data - looking at Millenial migration and migration of the wealthy.


Millenial Migration

Manisha Srivastava from CT Office of Policy and Management explored millenial migration in her analysis and the findings below represent a summary of her work.


One might wonder, why so much attention is placed on millenials. The reason is that millenials make up the largest living generation (children of the boomers born between 1981 and 1997) and therefore have a large impact on the economy.


The outstanding question is whether millenials’ preferences for urban living is a result of their age and therefore will change once they marry and have children and opt for suburban living, as previous generations have in the past, or if the preference for urban living remains. If they opt for the preferences of previous generations, it could be a boon for Connecticut where we have an abundant availability of suburban living, particularly when you look at the historical migration patterns for Connecticut by age cohort.


In 2015, millennials were between the ages of 18 to 34. The peak year of births for the millennial cohort was 1990 when 4.2 million were born; in 2015 this cohort of millennials born in 1990 turned 25. Now that the peak number of millennials reached the age of 25, and at a point when they might be considering settling down, moving out of parent’s abode, and thinking about marriage and kids - Connecticut could benefit from a large shift in their preferences.

Recent research does suggest that millenials preferences are similar to generations before them. According to an analysis using 2014 Census data, more people age 25 to 29 moved out of cities into suburbs as opposed to the numbers moving into cities, this was also true for those in their early 20s.  Across all ages, incomes, races, and education groups more Americans are still moving out of cities than in (urban populations are growing due to births and migration, not internal migration).


It is true that millenials are moving to the suburbs at a lower rate than previous generations did at the same age but that could also be due to delaying marriage and childbirth as opposed to forgoing it entirely (see graphs below. Source: IHS, Census Population Estimates; as printed in CT Economic Digest, December 2016).



Migration of the wealthy


The first the challenge is to define what is meant by ‘wealthy.’ For the purposes of this analysis, it is defined as those having investment income in the 99.5th percentile nationally. The investment income data are derived from the American Community Survey.  In 2005, that was approximately $115,000 and in 2015 it was about $145,000. Since 2005, the number of Connecticut residents who are in the top 99.5th percentile has steadily increased as shown in the chart below.


However, the net out migration of the wealthy is real. Although the actual number of people are small (averaging in the 300s in the past five years), and not large enough to counter the increase in wealthy residents, it still does have a revenue impact to the state.




We are very excited with the success of our first migration series. The goal was to convene interested parties across sectors and spawn new connections, research, and initiatives. Two groups formed from our initial meetings; one of which will put together a more in-depth analysis of migration and we look forward to presenting those results in the near future. 


If you have a topic that you'd like us to explore at a future forum, please reach out with your idea info@ctdata.org.