Census reports significant dip in international migration, though Florida is still on top

by Lydia Bhattacharya

Based on projected numbers for net international migration in 2019, experts at the Census Bureau believe that last year will mark the lowest level of net immigration into the U.S. for the past decade. Net migration of foreign-born individuals steadily increased between 2010 and 2016, however since 2016 net migration has dropped fairly steeply. At its highest level, which was between 2015 and 2016, the country gained a net total of over one million new foreign-born residents. One year later, net migration hovered around 930,000, however that drastically declined in 2018 where net migration decreased by nearly 25 percent. If the projections hold true, in 2019 the net migration of foreign-born folks will be decrease another 15 percent from 2018, and coming in at a 43 percent decrease in migration since the peak in 2016.

By comparing this Census report with the 2019 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate by the National Association of Realtors, it’s easier to see where international buyers are investing their money. Understanding which countries contribute the majority of emigration to specific states helps to interpret present and future immigration trends. The top five countries with buyers purchasing property in the U.S. were noted as Canada, China, India, Mexico and the island nation of the United Kingdom.

The three major patterns that the Census identified as having developed over the decade are: “declining immigration of the foreign born, increasing foreign-born emigration, and changes in Puerto Rican migration following Hurricane Maria in September 2017.” One could also speculate that with the Trump administration’s restrictive approach to immigration, international buyers have been unable to or deterred from entering the country. A recent development, as of 2018, China replaced Mexico as the country with the highest number of foreign-born immigrants moving to the United States. This could be a result of the combination of the administration’s stricter immigration policies between Mexico and America and the continued growth of the Chinese economy. Since 2006 our neighbors to the north in Canada have had fairly consistent levels of immigration to the US. The top three states that individuals emigrating to the U.S. chose to live in were Florida, California, Texas, New York and Massachusetts, respectively.

Florida experienced a rapid rise and then decline in international net migration. Last year, it had the highest level of net migration with an increase of 89,000 international residents. However, this number is the same as the state had in 2010, with dramatic fluctuations filling in the rest of the decade. In the last 10 years, more than one million foreign-born people have emigrated to Florida.

In 2019, Florida proved to be the main destination for international immigration to the U.S. The state attracted 20 percent of foreign-born buyers overall and a whopping 42 percent of Canadian immigrants. Florida was the most sought-after state for foreign buyers for three out of the five top countries identified in the NAR report (Canada, India and the United Kingdom), and even more impressively, was listed as one of the top states for foreign buyers in all five countries.

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