A record number of people are moving out of Colorado, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. About 193,000 Colorado residents moved to other states last year, 10,000 more than in 2015. Where are they moving to? According to the data, the biggest percentage of them headed for Washington state, with other destinations being Florida and Texas.
Housing costs and traffic are the top reasons cited by those seeking what might be a more comfortable life in other areas. Home prices have risen by 57 percent over the past eight years, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller, while wages have simply not kept pace.
State Demographer Elizabeth Garner says the Denver metro area will continue to grow, though the rate of people moving into the area has slowed.
“Right now we are forecasting the Denver metro area to increase, if we added 20 years, to about 4 million,” Garner said. “So a little under a million (more people).”
Garner says the annual average growth rates for both Denver metro and Denver proper are both around 1.5 percent or 1.6 percent. Meanwhile, 21 counties in the state have declined in population from 2010 to 2016, most of them on the Eastern Plains, Western Slope or in the San Luis Valley.
Garner says the slowing of growth is more than just people leaving the state. She says birth rates have slowed while more people are dying due to an aging population.
“We really have not changed remarkably in terms of our migration rates … our rank is anywhere from 10th to 15th in our migration rate,” she said. “We’re the 22nd largest state, that hasn’t changed recently. I think of Colorado has having some opportunities in its environment that especially attracts young people, and that has led to some of the successes that we’ve had.”
But, in terms of attracting people to move to Colorado, Garner says the state has lost some of it’s competitive edge.
“I’ve been watching some of the topics, mobility has been slowing, again that’s because of our age distribution, you’ve got a lot of people in age groups that don’t tend to move, and then, I don’t want to say we’ve lost our comparative advantage but we’re not as competitive as we were, say 10 years ago,” she said. “We’ve got higher cost of living, we’ve got a tighter housing market, a tighter labor source, so I think some people area looking at some other states out there that also have vibrant communities like we do that people can leverage.”
Attractive opportunities for young adults, she says, are a big component, since that’s the most mobile population.
“That’s almost like the time when you want to become the glue that people want to stick to.”