Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Migration Plays a Role in Restoring U.S. Population to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau publishes the Vintage population estimates, including international and domestic migration statistics. According to the recently published Vintage 2023 report, U.S. population trends are returning to pre-pandemic levels, resulting in the largest gains since 2018. The reason is decreased deaths and increased migration. In this analysis, we use this information to identify markets that are expected to continue to grow popular among Americans and international movers as we enter 2024.

Key Findings

  • In 2023, the United States population gained 1.6 million people.
  • Between July 2022 and July 2023, the U.S. gained more than 1.1 million foreign nationals.
  • Most international movers chose to live in large states, such as Florida, California, Texas, and New York.
  • Even though New York and California gained international migrations, these states experienced significant losses in domestic migration.
  • Previous NAR analysis of data from 2022 shows that most domestic movers left large states and metropolitan areas mainly because of affordability considerations.

International Migration

Between 2022 and 2023, a total of 1,138,989 foreign nationals moved to the United States. Most of them chose to settle in large states, such as Florida (178,432), California (150,983), Texas (128,982), and New York (73,867). However, we don’t have enough information to determine whether they stayed in these states or if they moved to metropolitan or rural areas. Smaller states, such as Wyoming (322), Montana (609), New Hampshire (859), and West Virginia (1,101), saw the smallest increases in international migration that year.

Domestic Migration

Even though California and New York were in the top four states to gain international movers, these states lost on the domestic migration front. California (-338,371), New York (-216,778), Illinois (-83,839), and New Jersey (-44,666) saw a decline in American residents, likely attributed to increased unaffordability experienced in those states in the last decade. In terms of domestic migration gains, Florida (194,438), Texas (186,767), North Carolina (97,264), and South Carolina (82,562) were all leading that year. Puerto Rico had zero domestic migration between 2022 and 2023.

Total Net Migration

Total net migration, accounting for both international and domestic moves, is the difference between the number of people relocating to and departing from a state in the same year. The nation’s most populous region, the South, gained over 1.1 million residents in net migration. Southern states like Florida (372,870), Texas (315,301), North Carolina (126,712), and South Carolina (91,853) were popular among both domestic and foreign movers. Both the West and the Northeast regions showed net migration losses, with large states like California (-187,389), New York (-142,911), and Illinois (-43,347) losing residents to more affordable areas.

Population Change by State

Overall, the United States gained more than 1.6 million people in 2023, growing to a total population estimate of 334,914,895 at the end of the year. Forty-three states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) experienced population growth, which, according to the Census Bureau, is more than in any year since the start of the pandemic. This growth can be attributed to fewer deaths and increased migration, which returned to pre-pandemic levels. The states leading the growth were Texas (473,453), Florida (365,205), North Carolina (139,526), and Georgia (116,077). On the other side, the states with the lowest growth rates were New York (-101,984), California (-75,423), Illinois (-32,826), and Puerto Rico (-14,422). It’s important to note that these states had the lowest population growth rates due to decreased domestic migration, even though they all gained international movers. Nevertheless, California, Texas, and Florida remained the largest states in terms of population estimates that year.