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Domestic In- and Out-Migration

Description: 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) annually releases an estimate of the number of people moving from one county to another within the United States. The number is derived by comparing the address provided by a taxpayer on the latest year’s federal income tax return to the address on the prior year’s return; those reporting addresses in different counties are considered to migrate. The migration figures are based on the total number of exemptions reported on the tax return. Data are produced by county and by state; the state figures are not the sum of the county figures since those moving from one county to another within the same state are not counted as migrants in the state tabulations.

The numbers of in-migrants, out-migrants, and net migrants are presented on Arizona Indicators since 1981 for Arizona and the 15 Arizona counties. The net migration rate—net migration divided by the state or county population—also is graphed. Limited data prior to 1981 are available from the IRS; data prior to 1991 are not available electronically. The migration data are slow to be released; no schedule is published.

Data Source: 

Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Migration-Data. The migration rate is calculated using the population estimates of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. The latest data can be obtained at http://www.census.gov/popest/counties but the historical data are more easily accessed from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.

Data Quality Comments: 

The number of migrants reported by the IRS is not a complete count. Some individuals do not need to file income tax returns. Other individuals fail to report in any given year; the data include those who have filed by late September. Some of those who do file cannot be matched from one year to the next for various reasons. In some cases, a tax filer provides an address other than the address at which they live (such as the address of the tax preparer), which may cause an individual to be incorrectly counted as a migrant.

The migration year is the year the latest tax return was filed (not the prior year for which income is reported). For example, for a 2010 income tax return filed in 2011, the migration year is 2011. However, the actual migration may have occurred anytime between the date of filing of the 2009 tax return (typically between late January and mid-April 2010) and the date of filing of the 2010 tax return (most commonly between late January and mid-April 2011). Thus, the migration could have occurred in either calendar year 2010 or 2011.

The migration rate data are updated based on revisions to the population estimates. Estimates may be modified substantially after the decennial census count is available.

iconIn-Migration

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Visualization Notes:

The number of in-migrants to Arizona from elsewhere in the United States has displayed only a modest upward trend since the early 1980s. The in-migration rate—the number of in-migrants per 1,000 state residents—has dropped sharply over this period. In-migration is highly cyclical, rising during economic expansions and falling during recessions. After peaking during the state’s economic boom in 2005 and 2006, the number of in-migrants fell in each year from 2007 through 2010, a result of the state’s long and deep economic recession. The 2010 number was the lowest since 1983.

iconOut-Migration

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Visualization Notes:

The number of out-migrants from Arizona to elsewhere in the United States has displayed an upward trend since the early 1980s, but the out-migration rate—the number of out-migrants per 1,000 state residents—has dropped over this period. Out-migration is countercyclical, falling during economic expansions and rising during recessions. After decreasing during the mid-2000s, the number of out-migrants rose in each year from 2006 through 2009, with the highest figures on record in 2008 and 2009.

iconNet Migration

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Visualization Notes:

The net number of migrants to Arizona from elsewhere in the United States is highly cyclical, rising during economic expansions and falling during recessions. Though the highest figures were realized during the real estate boom in 2005 and 2006, on average across the economic cycle there has been no trend in the numbers since the early 1980s. The net migration rate—the number of net migrants per 1,000 state residents—has declined over this period. The net number of migrants to Arizona decreased substantially during 2007, 2008 and 2009, a result of the state’s long and deep economic recession. The 2010 figure was barely higher than in 2009 and was the third lowest in the 30 years of the time series.

iconNet Migration Rate Per 1,000 Arizona Residents

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Visualization Notes:

The net migration rate is highly cyclical, with higher numbers during economic expansions. The net migration rate to Arizona has trended down since the early 1980s, as the net number of migrants averaged across the economic cycle has hardly changed while the number of Arizona residents has increased substantially. Even with a record net number of migrants during 2005 and 2006, the net migration rate was lower than during prior economic expansions. The rate in 2009 was the lowest on record; the 2010 figure was barely higher.

Data Source

Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Migration-Data. The migration rate is calculated using the population estimates of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. The latest data can be obtained at http://www.census.gov/popest/counties but the historical data are more easily accessed from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.