Where are people moving?

Forbes.com has put together a great map of inbound and outbound migration of cities at:

For Columbia’s home county of Boone, it appears as if we have more inbound migration from the surrounding counties and more outbound migration to other areas of the state and the nation.  The main weakness with this excellent map is that there is no interpretation to these numbers.

Map courtesy of Forbes.com

Here’s a couple possibilities for Boone County.

1) People are moving into Boone County from the more rural areas of the state, areas where there may be fewer jobs, dying central cities and and overall lack of opportunity.  Others are leaving Boone for better opportunities elsewhere.  This is probably the bleakest interpretation.

2) The migration pattern is skewed by the fact that we have three colleges in Boone County, including the state’s flagship university.  Clearly, we’ll have strong inbound and outbound migration as a result. Indeed, the income levels (mainly low $20’s) seem to back this up.

The question remains, who, exactly is leaving? Is it college students simply returning home? Is it the best and the brightest looking for opportunities elsewhere? Does the inbound migration consist of less-educated, blue collar individuals while the outbound consists mainly of creative class workers?  What’s needed is to toss education into the mix to differentiate a college student’s income from that of a  low-wage earner.

Either way, it’s pretty clear that Boone County is not seen as a nationwide mecca along the lines of say, Manhattan or Seattle. However, could be worse–take a look at Detroit.