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The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the U.S. South

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For much of the last century, the South was a net loser of blacks and whites to other regions. The end of this “Great Migration” occurred around 1970. Since then, the South is the only U.S. region to gain both blacks and whites through migration in every decade. As recessions often perturb migration systems by restraining rates of movement and altering patterns, this paper explores how the Great Recession of 2007–2009 and its aftermath affected the established migration gains of native‐born blacks and whites within the South. We use data from the 1990 and 2000 censuses and pooled data from American Community Survey to evaluate these changes. While the South continued to add both blacks and whites from migration during the recessionary years, key states bucked this trend. Georgia, for example, experienced a net migration gain of blacks but a net loss of whites. Florida added population in all time periods studied but lost large numbers of educated blacks and whites between 2008–2010. Texas, in contrast, added both blacks and whites from migration no matter their age or education throughout the recent recession. This economic downturn, then, has disturbed long‐term migration patterns in the South. A more nuanced set of interstate movements has emerged, differentiated by age and education within race groups, which we suspect will last for some time.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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