Seattle continues to buck a national trend of population migration out of major metro areas.

The Seattle Times’ FYI Guy, Gene Balk, reported yesterday that Seattle is just one of five large metropolitan areas that added population through domestic migration last year. Eye-popping rents and housing prices, flocks of construction cranes, and crowded sidewalks and streets provide more than anecdotal support for the Census Bureau numbers. Although we’re sure some will disagree, we think that growth is largely a good thing.

Balk writes,

New census data show that among the country’s 15 largest metro areas, just five had an increase in “net domestic migration” — in other words, more people moved in from other parts of the country than moved away.

Seattle is one of the five. From 2016 to 2017, we gained 21,000 more people from elsewhere in the U.S. than we lost.

The other four?  They’re all located in the sunny, lower third of the nation: Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Riverside, Cal.

For a little more context, see Wendell Cox’s post in New Geography. Cox points out, 

Earlier in the decade, the 53 major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) had greater net domestic migration than in the 54 middle-sized metropolitan areas (between 500,000 and 1,000,000 population). In fact, since 2012, net domestic migration in the major metropolitan areas have dropped every year. By 2016, the major metropolitan areas had a net domestic migration loss of 67,000, which accelerated to 166,000 in 2017. In contrast, the middle-sized metropolitan areas have experienced annual increases in net domestic migration each year since 2012. In 2017, the metropolitan areas with between 500,000 and 1,000,000 population gained 271,000 more net domestic migrants than the metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population…

Cox slices the data several different and interesting ways. We’ve seen some significant shifts in a relatively short time.

The new 2017 metropolitan area population estimates show that Philadelphia and San Francisco have been passed by newer metropolitan areas, Miami and Phoenix. Less than 15 years ago, Philadelphia was the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area, a position it had held since 1950. When Philadelphia was edged out by Los Angeles the city was then passed by Houston and Washington, and now Miami. Philadelphia now holds 8th place.

Phoenix has replaced San Francisco as the 11th largest metropolitan area in the nation, and is poised to replace 10th ranked Boston by the 2020 census, if present trends continue. Phoenix has a population of 4.74 million, compared to 4.73 million in San Francisco. In 1950, Phoenix had a population below 400,000, well behind San Francisco’s 2.1 million (present land areas), which had been either the West’s first or second largest metropolitan area since metropolitan areas were first delineated.

And this:

Meanwhile, the nation’s three largest metropolitan areas are stagnating. Los Angeles grew an anemic 0.19 percent compared to a national average of 0.72 percent. New York did marginally better, at 0.23 percent. In the city of New York growth has virtually stopped, increasing only 7,000 last year, compared to an average of 70,000 annually earlier in the decade. One borough — Brooklyn — actually lost population, a reversal from the early 2010s when annual increases exceeded 30,000. Suburban New York, long a laggard, added five residents for every new City resident in 2017. Chicago lost 0.14 percent and has returned to little more than its 2012 population.

Balk identifies a Washington trend we’d missed.

Even though King County is still growing — the population increased by 1.5 percent in 2017 —  it was the slowest it’s been in five years. King added about 33,000 people last year, down by 3,000 from 2016.

Here’s another way to look at the slowdown. If you go back to 2013, King County ranked No. 1 among Washington’s 39 counties for rate of growth. Last year, we ranked 24th.

Both Pierce and Snohomish counties grew at a faster clip than King in 2017. And in this way, we’re very similar to other high-priced large metro areas, where central counties are losing population to less-expensive, farther-flung suburbs.