Who is moving into and out of Texas?

Texas has one of the youngest median populations in the nation and its population is growing. In the last two years, the majority of Texas’ population increase is due to domestic migration as people leave other states and relocate to Texas.

To better understand Texas’ newest residents, we analyzed the IRS U.S. Population Migration Data, which gathers annual address data reported on tax returns. Households are calculated based on the number of tax returns filed whereas individuals are counted from the number of personal exemptions claimed.

Here’s what we found:

Inflow: Moving into Texas

The five states with the most households who moved into Texas are (in order): California, Florida, Louisiana, New York and Colorado. Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 53,000 households moved from California to Texas. Californians also brought the most money as their adjusted gross income, or AGI, totaled over $7.2 billion.

Top 5 States by Number of Households Migrating to Texas
State  Number of Households Number of Individuals Average Number of People per Household Adjusted Gross Income

(in thousands)

Average Income per Family

(in thousands)

Average Income per Individual

(in thousands)

California 52,816 105,434 1.99 7,221,828 136.74 68.50
Florida 20,616 36,961 1.79 1,374,945 66.69 37.20
Louisiana 16,123 31,207 1.93 818,551 50.77 26.23
New York 13,753 23,386 1.70 1,632,279 118.69 69.80
Colorado 13,162 25,021 1.90 1,063,832 80.83 42.52

The top 5 incoming states brought a total of $12.1 billion, accounting for 44% of the total incoming AGI for 2020-2021, while all incoming residents from other states brought in $27.5 billion combined. 

Individuals moved to Texas from California at a rate 2.85 times higher than Florida, the next highest contributor of migrants to Texas.

Individuals coming from either California or New York made over $68,000, compared to those who moved from Florida and Louisiana who made between $26,000 and $38,000. Narrowly missing the top 5 states for the highest number of households was Illinois. Illinois was unique in that it scored high in almost every inflow category: it was sixth for the most households, fourth for the most individuals, and had the fifth highest AGI of households in the U.S. moving to Texas.

Aside from Illinois, the top states who brought the most income per household into Texas were coastal with a high cost of living index, such as:

  • California,
  • New Jersey,
  • New York,
  • District of Columbia,
  • Connecticut,
  • Massachusetts,
  • Rhode Island, and
  • New Hampshire.

Households from these states had over $100,000 AGI on average.

Outflow: Moving out of Texas

The pattern is slightly different among Texans moving out of state. The top destinations among households who moved out of Texas between 2020 and 2021 were (in order): California, Florida, Colorado, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Texans moving to Florida reported the highest AGI at $1.7 billion. The second and third states with a high AGI from Texans moving there were California at $1.5 billion and Colorado with $1.1 billion.

Top 5 Destinations Among Households Migrating Out of Texas
State  Number of Households Number of Individuals Average Number of People per Household Adjusted Gross Income 

(in thousands)

Average Income per Family

(in thousands)

Average Income per Individual

(in thousands)

California 21,103 36,092 1.71 1,591,033 75.39 44.08
Florida 20,859 37,999 1.82 1,747,375 83.77 45.98
Colorado 13,456 23,882 1.77 1,116,296 82.96 46.74
Oklahoma 11,483 22,258 1.93 696,638 60.67 31.30
Louisiana 9,279 17,743 1.91 509,609 54.72 28.72

Although more households moved to California, more individuals, or more personal exemptions, were made among those moving to Florida. This difference could be explained by how there were more individuals per household who moved to Florida (on average 1.82 people) compared to California (on average 1.71 people). 

Texans moving to California, Florida and Colorado had more AGI compared to Texans moving to Oklahoma and Louisiana. Individuals and families moving to Colorado had the highest average income per household, even though they were third for the total number of people and households moving there.

A notable outlier are Texans who moved to D.C. Despite only 912 households moving there last year, these Texans had $146,350 in average household income, which was the highest AGI among states receiving Texans. 

Individuals moving to Massachusetts had the second highest average household income at $103,380. Meanwhile, Texas families moving to New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Montana brought anywhere between $90,000 and $95,000. 

Non-migrants: Staying within Texas

One last category to highlight are Texans who didn’t move at all. Between 2020-2021, there were about 9.95 million households or 21.29 million individuals who did not report a new address. In contrast, there were an additional 568,997 households or 1.07 million people who moved throughout the state between 2020-2021 but didn’t leave Texas. These high numbers are consistent with recent reports that Texas is the “stickiest state in the U.S.” Texas does the best at retaining its residents, whereas other native states lose their residents over time. 

Texas stickiest state image

In summary, there is a migration trend with many California and Florida residents moving to Texas between 2020-2021. Likewise, the top two destinations for families and individuals moving out of Texas were Florida and California. So the three largest states in the U.S. — California, Florida and Texas — traded residents, which could be explained by the fact that these three states are the most populated in the U.S.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog series to learn more about migration patterns within commuting zones and the role income plays in it.

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