In Shift, 40% Of Immigrants Move Directly To Suburbs

In Shift, 40% of Immigrants Move Directly to Suburbs

The New York Times
Published: October 17, 2007

About 4 in 10 immigrants are moving directly from abroad to the nations suburbs, which are growing increasingly diverse, according to census figures released yesterday.

The Census Bureaus annual survey of residential mobility also found that after steadily declining for more than a half-century, the proportion of Americans who move in any given year appears to have leveled off at about one in seven.

For blacks, especially, it mimics the 50s-style suburban movement, most pronounced for married couples with children, owners and the upwardly mobile, said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer.

Dr. Freys analysis of mobility patterns found that while Hispanic and Asian immigrants were more likely to settle first in the nations cities, after they get settled, they follow the train to the suburbs.

The migration of blacks to the South continued, with net gains of blacks also seen in the West. The South was the dominant region in recording gains among Hispanics living in the United States who moved.

The fast growth of construction and low-skilled jobs, plus the general affordability of parts of the South for upwardly mobile Hispanics, has made the South a key destination, Dr. Frey said.

The 2006 Current Population Survey found that nearly 40 million people had moved in the preceding year, or about 14 percent. Residential mobility has remained at that rate for several years now after declining steadily from a high of 20 percent since the census began measuring it in 1948. While the census count of movers from abroad includes returning citizens, the bulk of movers are foreign born.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said traditional gateway cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles were still magnets for immigrants who move to join friends and relatives. But particularly in the South and West, where central cities were less likely to develop dense cores, immigrants are following jobs to the suburbs and settling there first.

Its a really important shift, Ms. Singer said.

The highest rates of moving were among residents of the West and the South, Hispanic people, the unemployed and renters. Some 30 percent of renters lived elsewhere a year earlier, compared with 7 percent of owners.

Almost half of the movers said they changed residences because they wanted more space or less. Sixty-two percent moved within the same county, 20 percent moved from another county in the same state, 14 percent moved from another state and 3 percent moved from abroad.