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Opinion | The 4 Great Migrations

Then there is migration by younger Americans. As NPR reported in 2014, young people moving away from small towns for the big city has “long been the story line in small-town America,” but “it turns out the millennial generation is only accelerating the demographic shift. In fact, this may be the most ‘bright lights, big city’ generation in history.” NPR continued, “While the number of millennials is ticking slightly upward in small towns and rural areas, it’s nothing compared with the growth of their numbers in suburbs and cities.”

And, as Bloomberg reported in 2019:

“A new peer-reviewed study (the article is forthcoming in the Journal of Regional Science) finds that not only have young people been a driving force in the urban resurgence of the past two decades, but they favor living in central urban neighborhoods significantly more than previous generations did at the same stages in life.”

Finally, there is the reverse migration of Black people from cities in the North, Midwest and West to the South.

As The New York Times reported after the last census:

“The percentage of the nation’s Black population living in the South has hit its highest point in half a century, according to census data … as younger and more educated Black residents move out of declining cities in the Northeast and Midwest in search of better opportunities.”

The Times continued:

“The share of Black population growth that has occurred in the South over the past decade — the highest since 1910, before the Great Migration of blacks to the North — has upended some long-held assumptions.”

I predict and expect that this reverse migration will only continue and intensify.

Great migration movements are going to dramatically change America in the near future, upending the geography and structures of power, and it is hard to see how the country emerges on the other side of it. We may well be on the verge of a New America, a reshuffled United States, in which power, to some degree, is redistributed and exercised by emerging power players and power centers.

America as we have come to know it is likely a thing of the past. Migratory movements have continually reshaped this country and that trend shows no signs of ending.

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