If people are willing to move long distances to an area, it’s a good sign that things there are going well.

New migration data published by the Internal Revenue Service, based on tax returns filed in 2013 and 2014, shows where Americans are moving to or from at the county level. We’ve identified the top migration flows occurring over more than 200 miles. 

Nationally, domestic migration rates remain near historic lows, and when Americans do move, they generally stay within a metropolitan region. But some of the nation’s most populated counties attract large numbers of people from far away each year. For example, more than 9,800 people moved from Los Angeles County, Calif., to Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas) -- the top year-over-year migration flow over a long distance -- while about 5,700 moved in the opposite direction.

As one would expect, areas of the Sun Belt welcome the most residents from far away. Travis County, Texas, where the thriving city of Austin is located, recorded by far the highest net domestic in-migration -- regardless of distance -- of any county nationally. About three-quarters of its new residents relocated from more than 200 miles away, with many coming from Chicago, Detroit and parts of Florida. 

Determining which individuals are making such moves is key to understanding what may be taking place within a region. “If there’s a net long-distance migration of those with high incomes, it’s generally a sign of a vibrant economy,” says Mark Ellis, who researches internal migration at the University of Washington. On the other hand, if a large proportion of a given locality’s residents opt to move long distances away, it could signal a problem with the local labor market.

Overall domestic migration rates have been declining for decades. Research published by professor Thomas Cooke of the University of Connecticut shows that the recent economic downturn accounted for 63 percent of the decline between 1999 and 2009. While migration historically plummets during recessions and rebounds as the economy recovers, some additional factors may be at play this time around. In the past, a new job typically meant that an entire family would relocate. Ellis points out that this move isn’t as automatic now that more employees can work remotely thanks to the Internet and cheaper airfare. In addition, the economy is less tied to  manufacturing in much of the country, eliminating the incentive to move. Then there’s the aging of baby boomers, as older Americans tend to migrate at lower rates.

Some of the more recent indicators, however, suggest domestic migration may start to pick back up. Homeownership has fallen sharply in recent years and household sizes are getting smaller, both of which could result in greater mobility. A stronger economy could also go a long way in leading Americans to pack their bags and start new lives elsewhere.

2013-2014 Long Distance Migration Data

This table lists all migration flows where at least 1,000 people relocated more than 200 miles to a new county.

Data notes

Origin Destination Exemptions Tax Returns Approximate Distance (Mileage)
Los Angeles County, CA Clark County, NV 9,820 5,003 230
Miami-Dade County, FL Travis County, TX 6,466 3,887 1,096
Los Angeles County, CA Travis County, TX 5,679 2,908 1,231
Clark County, NV Los Angeles County, CA 5,366 2,794 230
Los Angeles County, CA Maricopa County, AZ 4,962 2,610 336
Maricopa County, AZ Los Angeles County, CA 3,807 2,140 336
Maricopa County, AZ Travis County, TX 3,728 1,350 895
Broward County, FL Travis County, TX 3,675 2,211 1,084
Dallas County, TX Harris County, TX 3,671 1,993 217
San Diego County, CA Maricopa County, AZ 3,494 1,809 249
Cook County, IL Travis County, TX 3,349 1,830 980
Harris County, TX Dallas County, TX 3,233 1,837 217
New York County, NY Los Angeles County, CA 3,115 2,392 2,445
Los Angeles County, CA Santa Clara County, CA 3,106 1,898 284
Los Angeles County, CA Alameda County, CA 2,980 1,932 314
Maricopa County, AZ San Diego County, CA 2,881 1,650 249
Wayne County, MI Travis County, TX 2,865 1,608 1,154
Cook County, IL Los Angeles County, CA 2,764 1,939 1,738
Fulton County, GA Travis County, TX 2,725 1,551 812
San Diego County, CA Clark County, NV 2,636 1,417 242
Clark County, NV Maricopa County, AZ 2,578 1,273 244
Clark County, NV Maricopa County, AZ 2,578 1,273 244
Clark County, NV Maricopa County, AZ 2,578 1,273 244
Los Angeles County, CA King County, WA 2,573 1,571 937
Orange County, CA Clark County, NV 2,568 1,368 235
Maricopa County, AZ Clark County, NV 2,527 1,235 244
Tarrant County, TX Harris County, TX 2,470 1,263 231
Orange County, CA Maricopa County, AZ 2,404 1,215 305
Cook County, IL Maricopa County, AZ 2,387 1,375 1,476
Miami-Dade County, FL Orange County, FL 2,385 1,324 207
Alameda County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 2,379 1,629 314
Los Angeles County, CA Harris County, TX 2,368 1,211 1,370
Hillsborough County, FL Travis County, TX 2,357 1,243 940
Los Angeles County, CA San Francisco County, CA 2,351 1,889 361
San Francisco County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 2,271 1,822 361
Santa Clara County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 2,224 1,431 284
Los Angeles County, CA New York County, NY 2,203 1,787 2,445
Palm Beach County, FL Travis County, TX 2,056 1,228 1,076
Riverside County, CA Maricopa County, AZ 2,026 912 204
Riverside County, CA Travis County, TX 2,008 683 1,098
Harris County, TX Tarrant County, TX 1,993 1,075 231
King County, WA Los Angeles County, CA 1,992 1,246 937
Kings County, NY Los Angeles County, CA 1,970 1,479 2,446
San Diego County, CA Honolulu County, HI 1,968 891 2,649
Clark County, NV San Diego County, CA 1,940 1,061 242
Honolulu County, HI San Diego County, CA 1,900 870 2,649
San Diego County, CA Santa Clara County, CA 1,861 1,053 401
Los Angeles County, CA Sacramento County, CA 1,847 1,081 340
Orange County, FL Travis County, TX 1,832 956 992
Maricopa County, AZ Orange County, CA 1,829 978 305
Cook County, IL Harris County, TX 1,818 961 937
Travis County, TX Miami-Dade County, FL 1,817 1,073 1,096
Shelby County, TN Travis County, TX 1,757 856 567
DeKalb County, GA Travis County, TX 1,730 956 825
Clark County, NV Travis County, TX 1,714 814 1,081
Maricopa County, AZ King County, WA 1,680 970 1,092
Los Angeles County, CA Cook County, IL 1,668 1,135 1,738
El Paso County, TX Bexar County, TX 1,664 748 486
New York County, NY San Francisco County, CA 1,656 1,376 2,600
Honolulu County, HI Clark County, NV 1,646 805 2,779
Los Angeles County, CA Contra Costa County, CA 1,640 935 330
Sacramento County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 1,626 1,017 340
Santa Clara County, CA San Diego County, CA 1,590 875 401
Orange County, FL Miami-Dade County, FL 1,588 929 207
San Bernardino County, CA Maricopa County, AZ 1,577 725 235
Clark County, NV Orange County, CA 1,560 871 235
Hidalgo County, TX Bexar County, TX 1,551 735 212
Hidalgo County, TX Harris County, TX 1,518 648 293
King County, WA Maricopa County, AZ 1,513 859 1,092
Maricopa County, AZ Riverside County, CA 1,506 697 204
Harris County, TX Los Angeles County, CA 1,468 868 1,370
King County, WA Santa Clara County, CA 1,454 767 710
Bexar County, TX Dallas County, TX 1,423 824 251
Los Angeles County, CA Dallas County, TX 1,400 787 1,240
Contra Costa County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 1,381 858 330
Cumberland County, NJ Travis County, TX 1,375 365 1,421
Maricopa County, AZ Cook County, IL 1,374 831 1,476
Kings County, NY Travis County, TX 1,373 732 1,511
Los Angeles County, CA San Mateo County, CA 1,369 896 320
Honolulu County, HI Hawaii County, HI 1,352 714 217
New York County, NY Miami-Dade County, FL 1,327 907 1,113
Miami-Dade County, FL Harris County, TX 1,314 723 956
Orange County, CA Santa Clara County, CA 1,309 769 329
Bernalillo County, NM Maricopa County, AZ 1,306 631 353
Philadelphia County, PA Travis County, TX 1,300 692 1,437
Cameron County, TX Harris County, TX 1,299 538 289
San Diego County, CA Alameda County, CA 1,295 845 431
Santa Clara County, CA Orange County, CA 1,292 691 329
San Diego County, CA Harris County, TX 1,279 612 1,277
Cook County, IL New York County, NY 1,278 1,027 713
New York County, NY Cook County, IL 1,271 992 713
Salt Lake County, UT Washington County, UT 1,270 595 250
San Diego County, CA Travis County, TX 1,264 694 1,138
Dallas County, TX Bexar County, TX 1,254 673 251
Cook County, IL Clark County, NV 1,245 706 1,513
Cook County, IL Dallas County, TX 1,239 675 805
Cook County, IL King County, WA 1,238 779 1,709
Cook County, IL Hennepin County, MN 1,234 715 363
San Diego County, CA King County, WA 1,234 763 1,034
Miami-Dade County, FL Los Angeles County, CA 1,226 758 2,325
Miami-Dade County, FL Los Angeles County, CA 1,226 758 2,325
Nassau County, NY Palm Beach County, FL 1,226 688 1,049
Milwaukee County, WI Travis County, TX 1,226 494 1,047
Bexar County, TX Tarrant County, TX 1,215 593 241
Queens County, NY Broward County, FL 1,209 674 1,070
Santa Clara County, CA King County, WA 1,203 640 710
Salt Lake County, UT Maricopa County, AZ 1,198 551 507
Collin County, TX Harris County, TX 1,160 589 241
Washoe County, NV Clark County, NV 1,156 648 401
Los Angeles County, CA Kings County, NY 1,154 909 2,446
San Bernardino County, CA Travis County, TX 1,146 526 1,121
Cook County, IL San Diego County, CA 1,144 721 1,701
Los Angeles County, CA Honolulu County, HI 1,136 682 2,575
Los Angeles County, CA Tarrant County, TX 1,134 543 1,211
Orange County, CA King County, WA 1,130 653 978
Harris County, TX Hidalgo County, TX 1,129 459 293
El Paso County, TX Maricopa County, AZ 1,124 512 380
Dallas County, TX Los Angeles County, CA 1,121 695 1,240
Maricopa County, AZ Harris County, TX 1,116 555 1,034
Maricopa County, AZ San Bernardino County, CA 1,113 522 235
Alameda County, CA San Diego County, CA 1,113 683 431
Hawaii County, HI Honolulu County, HI 1,110 622 217
East Baton Rouge County, LA Harris County, TX 1,102 569 261
Tarrant County, TX Bexar County, TX 1,096 556 241
Clark County, NV Washoe County, NV 1,087 622 401
King County, WA Spokane County, WA 1,085 670 207
Orange County, CA Alameda County, CA 1,079 640 359
Honolulu County, HI Los Angeles County, CA 1,076 652 2,575
District of Columbia New York County, NY 1,069 930 207
Collin County, TX Travis County, TX 1,067 589 214
Harris County, TX Collin County, TX 1,064 552 241
San Mateo County, CA Los Angeles County, CA 1,060 673 320
King County, WA San Diego County, CA 1,055 653 1,034
Onslow County, NC San Diego County, CA 1,048 382 2,242
Salt Lake County, UT Clark County, NV 1,047 516 350
San Diego County, CA Sacramento County, CA 1,043 587 454
Cameron County, TX Bexar County, TX 1,043 509 240
Los Angeles County, CA Miami-Dade County, FL 1,037 632 2,325
San Diego County, CA Onslow County, NC 1,035 390 2,242
Pinellas County, FL Travis County, TX 1,035 602 917
Spokane County, WA King County, WA 1,024 679 207
King County, WA Orange County, CA 1,022 522 978
Travis County, TX Los Angeles County, CA 1,017 649 1,231
Orange County, CA Travis County, TX 1,009 527 1,199
Bronx County, NY Travis County, TX 1,008 505 1,521
Bronx County, NY Travis County, TX 1,008 505 1,521
El Paso County, TX Ector County, TX 1,004 404 217
Queens County, NY Los Angeles County, CA 1,000 695 2,452

SOURCE: 2013-2014 IRS Migration Data Tax exemptions claimed are used to approximate numbers of people moving from one county to another. The approximate straight line distance between the center of counties was calculated for each migration flow. Moves occurring over a distance of at least 200 miles are shown in the table.

View complete migration data for all counties