Once immigrants are in Minnesota, they leave like anyone else

In December, I wrote that:

From mid-2021 to mid-2022, 19,400 Minnesota residents left for other states, by far the highest number in at least three decades.

This does not mean that Minnesota’s population fell over that period. Changes in population come from a natural increase/decrease (births minus deaths), net domestic migration (the figure above, number of residents moving to here from other states minus number of residents moving from here to other states), and net international migration (the number of residents moving to here from other countries minus number of residents moving from here to other countries).

This last component is generally positive in Minnesota. From mid-2021 to mid-2022, 14,194 foreigners moved to Minnesota on net. This, coupled with an excess of births over deaths (11,617), gave our state positive population growth.

To the extent that a net inflow of people from other countries offsets some of the net outflow of people to other states, it is sometimes said that our generally positive balance of net international migrants means that we don’t have to worry so much about our chronic hemorrhaging of residents to other parts of the United States.

But those international migrants, once here, are perfectly free to become domestic migrants and skedaddle to other states like anyone else. As a recent CNN article explained, that is pretty much what they do:

recent study by the Bush Institute found that many immigrants eventually move from traditional gateway cities to other areas of the country.

“Immigrants making secondary moves within the United States are disproportionately choosing the same places as native-born people – metros with relatively affordable housing and growth-friendly business and tax policies,” the study says. “Once there, they gravitate toward fast-growing suburban counties.”

For many years, the majority of immigrants lived in the Northeast and Midwest. But now, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest analysis, about two-thirds of immigrants live in the West and South.

And in recent years, some states have seen their immigrant populations grow at a faster rate.

Indeed, while Minnesota’s immigrant population has grown by 28.8% since 2010, in South Dakota it grew by 39.3% and in North Dakota by 103.3%, the fastest rate in the United States.

CNN continues:

As the Bush Institute study notes, job opportunities, affordable housing, family connections and immigrant-friendly policies are among the factors that immigrants consider when deciding where to move.

Sadly, Minnesota’s job growth is sluggish compared to states like Florida and our state has relatively little to offer in the way of affordable housing.

International migrants are not generally, it seems, much different to the average American. They want opportunities to prosper and will move to find them. If we want to attract and retain migrants both foreign and domestic, Minnesota’s policymakers need to offer them those opportunities. Sadly, current policies are moving in the opposite direction.