Americans flee blue cities for red states during the pandemic: report

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Americans were on the move in large numbers during the pandemic, leaving behind large cities for suburban and rural areas of red states..

Georgetown, Texas, saw the fastest rate of growth during that time span, expanding by 10.5%, a rate Axios noted would double the size of the community in less than seven years. An additional two Texas cities, Leander (10.1%) and New Braunfels (8.3%), saw the second- and fifth-highest rate of migration respectively. Two Arizona cities, Queen Creek Town (8.9%) and Buckeye (8.6%), round out the top five at the third and fourth-highest rate of migration.

The top 15 cities by rate of population growth between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, were concentrated in red states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee and Idaho, according to an Axios analysis of Census Bureau data Monday.

The growth of suburban areas comes at the same time as an exodus has occurred from America’s largest cities, with New York City seeing a population decrease of 3.5% during that time span, a net loss of 305,000 people.

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New York City skyline

New York City skyline (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

The nation’s most populous city was not the only urban area to see its population shrink considerably, with San Jose (-2.7%), Chicago (-1.6%), Philadelphia (-1.5%), Dallas (-1.1%), and Los Angeles (-1.0%) all seeing a decrease in population of at least 1% during the pandemic. 

A switch to remote work during the pandemic helped drive the population movement, as people previously tethered to office spaces in urban centers were able to seek out more space and a lower cost of living. Major cities in the U.S. also experienced a surge in violent crime throughout the pandemic, though less restrictive gun laws in states such as Texas and Arizona did not appear to dissuade people from moving to the states.

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Texas state flag.

Texas state flag. (Reuters)

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Cities in Tennessee and Florida were also part of the group that saw rapid expansion during the pandemic, with Fort Myers, Florida (6.8%), Case Grande, Arizona (6.2%), Maricopa, Arizona (6.1%), North Port, Florida (5.5%), Spring Hill, Tennessee (5.4%), Goodyear, Arizona (5.4%), and Port St. Lucie, Florida (5.2%), checking in at spots 6-12 in population growth.

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Three suburbs of Boise, Idaho, rounded out the top 15, with Meridian (5.2%), Caldwell (5.2%) and Nampa (5.0%) all with at least 5% population growth.