A Look at Migration – Population Shifts Between Oakland and Other Counties
(Kurt Metzger, Sept. 11, 2022)
Oakland County, MI – Population growth depends on three factors: births, deaths, and migration – both international and domestic.
While most people are familiar with the Census that is conducted every 10 years (years ending in “0”), fewer realize that the Census Bureau utilizes data from a number of sources to create annual population estimates for all states and counties in the U.S. In addition to using Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data for births and deaths (data collected from State Health Departments) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data for Immigration, a critical component – migration within the United States (domestic migration) is collected from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In addition to sharing the migration totals with the Census Bureau, the IRS produces annual files that compare the address listed on tax returns from year to year to determine whether the filer moved or not (moves within the county would be treated as no move). The files are produced at the State level – identifying the previous state of residence for those moving into Michigan, and the new state of residence for those who have moved out.
On the county level, we get the same two inflow and outflow tables, but this time it recognizes county-to-county flows. In addition to the number of filers (households) that moved, we also get the total number of people in those households and the ‘adjusted gross income’ that these households, together, represent to their new state, or county, of residence. https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-migration-data-2019-2020
Oakland County grew by 6 percent (adding 72,000 residents) between 2010 and 2020. This growth was concentrated in the first four years of the decade. By the end of the decade, a continued decrease in births, increase in deaths, and decrease in immigration resulted in population stagnation. In fact, the 2021 population estimates show population loss.
New data released by the IRS for 2020 (moves between 2019 and 2020) shows that the net domestic out-migration that began in 2013-14 and continued through 2019, showed another relatively large loss between 2019 and 2020. Total population flows in and out of Oakland County over the last five years are displayed in Figure 1.
Finally, let us look at the Flows and understand the major county sources for our new residents, as well as those counties where Oakland County residents have decided to move. (See Fig. 2)
As one would expect, local counties would feature strongly in both flows. Wayne County continued its annual dominance as a source of new Oakland County residents, sending 2,494 more people to Oakland than it received. In fact, over the last 5 years, Wayne County has seen 12,558 residents lost to Oakland (78,354 in / 65,796 out). No other county comes anywhere close to supplying new residents.
Macomb County, which sent a mere 175 more residents than it received between 2019 and 2020, contributed for the first time in the last 5 years, averaging a net gain of 510 Oakland residents per year in the previous four. Other small gains came from three of the largest population losers in the country – Cook (Chicago), Los Angeles and New York counties.
On the losing side of the ledger – taking more from Oakland than the give – are Genesee, Livingston and Lapeer. These have been the traditional go-to locations when Oakland County residents are looking for larger homes on larger lots with lower property taxes.
The pandemic upended society in so many, many ways. Births went down across the country, while deaths increased. Immigration was reduced drastically by the previous administration and geographic mobility (moves made across the U.S.) reached its lowest level in decades. We will have to wait awhile to see what effects it has had on all components of population growth.
For more stories about population shifts, voter turnout and other election trends, and other interesting numbers, visit the Data-Based Stories Archives on Oakland County Times. Thanks to Data Expert Kurt Metzger for this work!