New In-Migrants Account for Most of Jackson County’s Population Gains

by Guy Tauer

August 5, 2021

The 2018-2019 migration patterns were recently released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Migration data for the United States are based on year-to-year address changes reported on individual income tax returns filed with the IRS. They present migration patterns by state or by county for the entire United States and are available for inflows – the number of new residents who moved to a state or county and where they migrated from, and outflows – the number of residents leaving a state or county and where they went.

These migration patterns show the number of returns and exemptions (a good proxy for people) that filed their federal taxes in a different county from the previous year. Not only can this data help show the volume of migrants into or out of the Rogue Valley, but it also reveals the county of origin for those moving here. On the other hand, we can also track where folks move to when they file their taxes with a different address than their prior year’s tax return.

Net migration was strong in Jackson County in 2019. The county netted nearly 1,300 exemptions from 2019. In other words, 9,112 exemptions migrated to Jackson County and 7,821 exemptions migrated out of Jackson County, for a net migration gain of 1,291 exemptions or people. Of the 9,112 who migrated to Jackson County, 6,106 came from a different state and 3,006 came from a different county in Oregon. Among the 7,821 who migrated out of Jackson County, 4,599 left for a different state and 3,222 migrated to a different county in Oregon.

Population estimates from Portland State University Population Research Center show a gain of 2,090 new residents in Jackson County from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019 – trending similarly to the IRS data, though it doesn’t cover exactly the same time period as the IRS tax year data. Also not everyone who migrated here may have filed taxes during the period the IRS collects data for that year. Late filers would be excluded from the annual IRS migration data. Our population growth is not exclusively from net migration, but natural increase (more births than deaths) is a relatively small share of our population growth.
The top net migration counties include many in California, especially Southern California counties. These net figures do mask the areas that have a stronger population exchange. Note that the largest net migration was from Butte County, CA, where the Paradise fire displaced so many residents. There were a large number that moved between Jackson and Josephine counties from 2018 to 2019; 986 exemptions (or people) moved from Josephine to Jackson County and 956 migrated from Jackson to Josephine County, for a net migration to Jackson County of 30. We also had relatively similar in and out migration between Washington, Coos, Douglas, and Curry Counties. But the California net in-migration effect is quite apparent looking at the top net in-migration counties in 2019.

Jackson County is not gaining positive net migration from every county. Other communities where we saw a net loss included Deschutes and Lane counties in Oregon, Maricopa County in Arizona, and Honolulu County in Hawaii, likely retirees or “snow birds” making their move to warmer climates.
We had faster population growth coming out of the Great Recession, but that has slowed in the past couple years as home prices have now spiked past pre-recession peaks. Rental costs are also reaching new heights in the past couple years as vacancy rates have fallen and the supply of new housing hasn’t kept up with demand. However, it is important to remember that our population growth has been an essential component to the region’s economic growth. New people become critical contributors to our local labor force, create or relocate businesses in the Rogue Valley, bringing diverse perspectives, and more importantly, are looking for many of the same quality of life benefits that those of us that call this place home also value.

A Few Notes about IRS Migration Data

The data are available for filing years 1991 through 2019 and include:

  • Number of returns filed, which approximates the number of households that migrated.
  • Number of personal exemptions claimed, which approximates the number of individuals.
  • Total adjusted gross income, starting with filing year 1995.
  • Aggregate migration flows at the state level, by the size of adjusted gross income (AGI) and age of the primary taxpayer, starting with filing year 2011.
IRS Statistics of Income’s migration data for the United States are based on year-to-year address changes reported on individual income tax returns filed with the IRS. They present migration patterns by state and county and are available for inflows – the number of new residents who moved to a state or county and where they migrated from, and outflows – the number of residents leaving a state or county and where they went. The data also include tabulations on the number of nonmigrant returns within a state and county. Data do not represent the full U.S. population because many individuals are not required to file an individual income tax return.

For more information and to download the data go to: https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-migration-data.

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