More People are Moving to Yakima than Leaving – a Look at the Data Behind Positive In-Migration

Residual net migration, in a sense, is a measurement of the popularity and livability of an area. The elements of a community that make it “livable” include availability and type of jobs they offer; food and dining, recreation and leisure activities; housing affordability; public school systems; among others. These elements make a place desirable for those already living there, and entice people from other parts of the country to consider moving into the area.

To understand net migration, one must first understand its pieces. Population change is the amount by which the population grows or shrinks from one year to the next. The “natural” increase is calculated by subtracting the number of deaths from the number of births. So, residual net migration is essentially the number left over when you take population change and remove the natural increase. In other words, Residual Net Migration = (population in latter year – population in earlier year) – (births – deaths).

For public entities, this indicator can provide insight into demands for services, for school seats, for housing – rental or owner-occupied, for roads and other forms of transportation, and for electric utilities. In the private sector, changes in the population will change the demand for goods and services. For local governments, population change impacts tax revenues. While we typically think of change and increases as synonymous, population can decrease, resulting in fewer public demands, as well as a decrease in tax revenues.

When we scrutinize residual net migration indicator, we see a trend of negative net migration occurring in the mid to late 1980’s and a consistent positive net migration in Yakima County during the 1990’s. Yet, since the year 2000, there has consistently been negative net migration from one year to the next.

“Businesses and the economy as a whole has felt this trend of out migration – more people moving out of the area than are moving in,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of the Yakima County Development Association. “The age group where this outmigration is occurring are the 20 to 40 year olds in our communities. Attracting and retaining talented professionals has been a challenge during the past decade but we are starting to see that change.”

More specifically, from 2016-2017, there was a positive net migration of 111 people, representing 0.04% of the 2017 population of Yakima County.

Smith explained that there is a combination of factors that could be influencing a change in this trend toward positive in-migration. There are a number of major community development initiatives taking place from a new regional sports complex to the growth of the post-secondary education system and healthcare industries to investments and improvements such as incubators and redevelopment projects being made in the downtown cores of the major cities in the county.

“There has been a lot of focus in the community on investing in and developing major quality of life projects,” said Smith. “I think we are starting to see that influence people s decision to make the Yakima Valley their home.”

To learn more, please visit the Yakima Valley Trends website here.


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