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Workers And HQs Join Pandemic-Era Exodus From The Coasts

Workers who are able to relocate from higher-cost places on both coasts to cheaper places elsewhere now appear to be doing so in great numbers. Though people have long migrated for economic reasons, the coronavirus pandemic has probably helped kick the trend into high gear.


Between April and October of this year, cities such as Austin, Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa and Jacksonville have gained population rapidly, according to data compiled by LinkedIn, as reported by Bloomberg, which analyzed changes in ZIP codes among its 174 million U.S. members.

Austin had the nation's No. 1 net influx of people, LinkedIn found, with 1.53 people moving into the metro area for every one person who left over the six-month period. Phoenix and Nashville both have gained 1.48 people for every one leaving, and Tampa and Jacksonville gained 1.47 and 1.46 people, respectively.

Austin also ranks first among the country’s largest 50 metros for new residents as a percentage of total population, according to Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce data. In 2018 and '19, the city netted 168 new residents each day. Between 2010 and 2019, the city added over 500,000 new residents, an increase of nearly 30%.

Hartford, Connecticut, greater New York and the San Francisco Bay Area were the top net losers of population since April, LinkedIn reports, followed by metro Chicago and Cleveland.

The increasing acceptance of remote work is helping make these moves possible. Upwork’s Remote Workers on the Move report in October predicted that as many as 23 million Americans were planning to move to take advantage of working in less expensive, more pleasant places. Upwork is a platform for hiring freelance workers and for freelancers looking for jobs.

"Many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live," Upwork Chief Economist Adam Ozimek said when the report was released.

For now, though more expensive than they used to be, places like Austin and Nashville still are considerably less expensive to live than New York or the Bay Area, which are the most expensive and third-most-expensive places to live, according to Council for Community and Economic Research. Austin is 77th most expensive and Nashville 121st.

Businesses are likewise voting with their feet.

“The trend has been a slow burn over the past two decades, but now it has kicked into high gear thanks to [the pandemic], spiraling costs and a feckless political class that runs this city and state,” Charles Gasparino wrote in the New York Post, referring to the corporate exodus from Wall Street.

On the other coast, Oracle announced last week that it is moving its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin, the latest in a long string of companies relocating from California to Texas.

"We believe these moves best position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with more flexibility about where and how they work," Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger told CNN Business.