So part of me thought that the lack lack of attention to the U-Haul report out last week
was a sign we had finally realized that it was no longer news that migration flows were net positive into Pittsburgh. Maybe not and the PG noted the factoid. U-Haul survey suggests young are moving to Pittsburgh
. I also see the PBT mentioned it the other day
. What I am confused by a bit, is long before U-Haul put out their report which benchmarks 2012 data, it also looks like the dean of local real estate reporting, Sam Spatter, mentioned the 2012 U-Haul data specifically last month
... again even though there was no U-Haul report released
yet??? He quoted the exact number even???
BTW, and I realize some may not appreciate the semantics, but the U-Haul data is not survey based at all. Their documentation is a bit lacking, probably because it is pretty straighforward. It appears to be a complete enumeration of their own records, not a sample of any other data. Makes a difference in interpreting it. Certainly no sample error.
Anyway. I still to this day get people disputing me that migration flows are not all negative for Pittsburgh. If I do convince them, the argument is that it is all anomalous. Just a variation of nabobism
. Is it all a big anomaly?
Total net migration appears to have been positive now for 5 straight years, 2007-2012. I suppose there is a bit of a judgement call in how to characterize that, but 5 years does not make for an anomaly. There is something else. Pittsburgh itself has not moved. Nothing we can do about the weather for example. There are migration flows of younger folks, and there are migration flows of older folks. There should be little doubt that migration flows of the older population are still net out
of the region as folks typically retire to points South and West. Elderly migration flows are pretty consistent over time. That has not changed. The total migration flow for the region include all ages, including the older migration flows that likely continue to be net out.
So while it is hard to measure annually, I personally believe that the net migration flows for the population say under 50 turned had to have turned positive at least a couple years before the total net migration flow turned positive. That puts us near 2005 or so. We are not up to a decade yet, but getting there. Not only is it not a new story that young people are not 'fleeing' (used to always be the verb of choice) but it has really not been an issue at all for quite some number of years. Given another fact that net migration for Pittsburgh remained palpably negative through the 1990s, the shift from net out toward net in happened early in the 21st century.
Back to the U-Haul report. In itself old news sort of, and the Census population numbers were covered last month in their own news cycle
. All of these data points fall in on themselves. The only value added from the U-Haul report for me is confirmation the trend has not changed. If anything the trend for net in-migration might even be accelerating. We never ranked number 1 on the U-Haul report in the past, so 2012 is better than previous years for us. Really, we were pretty far ahead of the #2 region in their one metric that I think represents net migration rate. I am still pondering that some. Also, the census estimates reported on last month were technically based on migration flows through the middle of 2012, literally only to July 1. So the U-Haul data appears to cover calendar year 2012. I will base a large bet that we are currently almost done with the 6th year of net in-migration as will be reported on by the Census estimates next year. So the generation of young people not watching their classmates flee will be entering 1st grade soon. They are going to be a confused bunch at this rate.
.... and we will learn a bit more of the trends later today when March nonfarm jobs data for the Pittsburgh MSA comes out.