Hoosier outward migration may not be as high as theorized

We used to be able to say that on Census Day (April 1) in 2010, a certain number of persons with certain characteristics lived in a given place.

Now, however, you must accommodate the idea that over a one- or five year period there was an estimated number of persons of given characteristics who lived in certain places. This is not really a new idea.

We’re familiar with thinking that the August number of jobs describes a month. If we were honest with ourselves, there could be a different number for each week and, if it mattered, for each day. That’s true for much of the data we use. In reality, the number of jobs is reported for the week in which the 12th of the month occurs.

Each month, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) chooses approximately 295,000 residential addresses and send questionnaires to the people who live there. That’s about 3.5 million households annually from which one year data are available for places with 65,000 or more persons. With 60 months (five years) worth of data for nearly 18 million households, the Census Bureau estimates how many people, with what characteristics live in every town, city, county and state of the nation.

Those estimates are not a snapshot of a point in time; they are a blend of 12 months for each year, 60 months for five years. Hence, using the monthly data from 2011 through 2015, the Census Bureau serves up the 2015 ACS “vintage,” not a sip from the juice of a single grape, but a taste from a cup filled the juice of 60 grapes.

The data that follow are from that 2015 ACS vintage for Indiana.

Of the 6.5 million estimated Hoosier residents one year or older, 85 percent were living in the same dwelling (house, apartment, condo, trailer) as they did a year earlier. Another 9 percent changed residence, but moved only within their initial counties. That’s staying put; only 6 percent were newcomers to their counties of residence.

Thus Indiana had 365,200 “strangers” moving into their counties. But 229,000 (63 percent) of these migrants were Hoosiers moving from other Indiana counties. They may have been seeking to live closer to work or further away, but with more lawn to mow. Actual inter-state migrants numbered only 136,200. Add to this 23,800 who moved from abroad, just 0.4 percent of our 6.5 million persons, many of whom may be students.

But where did Hoosiers go? Of those living here a year earlier, over 94 percent were still in the same county; another 3.5 percent changed counties, but stayed in Indiana. That left only 140,600 Hoosiers who moved out-of-state; a net loss of just 4,400 persons. (We have no data on Hoosiers who moved to foreign lands.)

The crisis of out-migration from Indiana may be over-blown.

Morton Marcus is an economist, writer and speaker who may be reached at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com.