Run away! Run away!

Native-born Americans moving out of cities of all sizes, Census Bureau says

Can’t say as I blame them. But of course there’s a larger political point to be made, and it leads off the story:

Without immigrants pouring into the nation’s big metro areas, places such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston would be shrinking as native-born Americans move farther out.

I’ve got to say that this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve heard about underpopulation in US cities being a problem. Really.

Not that it would be “underpopulation”, of course. Anyone who’s spent much time in major urban areas knows that over-crowding, lack of good housing, and expensive parking spaces are among the real issues.

But leave it to some media report to claim that not only is a leveling off of urban population growth a bad thing, but that we need more immigrants to prop it up.

Was this maybe supposed to be an April Fools Day column?


  1. MO, Well put another way, the response to ‘Without immigrants pouring into the nation’s big metro areas, places such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston would be shrinking as native-born Americans move farther out’, would be: ‘So’?

  2. Typical east/west coast bias. Cities in the South aren’t losing people. Dallas/Ft. Worth is the fourth largest metro area in the country and they are #2 on that growth list.

  3. This is part of the ongoing effort by the open borders crowd to change the opinion of the American people into accepting open borders. You can use statistics to spin an issue any way you want. For example, they chose to focus on immigrants, legal and illegal, contributing to the growth, and by extension, the vitality of our cities. What if instead they focused on the growth in our prison population, the closing of hundreds of hospitals and the burden to local taxpayers to fund more schools? I agree with Murdoc that a declining urban population is not necessarily bad. At the turn of the 1900s, there were about 2 billion people on Earth. Think about it, it took from the beginning of human history to 1900 to accumulate 2 billion living people at any given time. 100 years later that number is 6 billion and climbing and will probably peak out at 12 to 15 billion by 2050. If we are lucky it might start to decline after that. There is even debate now in environmental groups like The Sierra Club as to whether to take a stand against massive immigration which leads to more growth, sprawl and a stress on resources, especially clean water.

  4. spacey, About…14 years ago I took a seminar with a respected faculty member who I got along great with. I always did get along well, really, with the old curmudgeonly professors who took their PhDs in the ’50s, weren’t terribly concerned about your feelings or self-esteem, and weren’t afraid to tell you when you were f*cked up. Anyway, one day we were talking outside of class, and got on the topic of conflict and inter-state war and such. And he said words to the effect of, ‘brushfire wars over energy are nothing compared to what will happen when the water starts drying up.’

  5. The title of your post reminds me of Black Adder: ‘They’re coming! Run for the hills!’ ‘My lord, they are coming from the hills.’ ‘Run away from the hills! Run away from the hills!’

  6. Let’s face it, without massive immigration the liberal welfare state is over. The birth rate among native born Americans won’t sustain it. That’s the crux of the issue. Without massive immigration, Social Security as we know it will end. Welfare as we know it will end. The whole entitlement system will end, along with a significant portion of the Federal government’s power – because money is power. They will not let that happen. They will let them pour in legally or illegally to prevent the decline of the nanny state.

  7. dfens, I think you have a point. However, the welfare state is a catch 22 situation. First, we need more workers to pay into the system. But with the welfare state you attract more people to the system to partake before they have contributed. For example, a guy coming here to work might not be coming just for the nice benefits. However, if he gets hurt, he goes to the emergency room. Who pays? If he brings his kids they get enrolled in school free. If they don’t speak English bilingual teaching is provided. I heard Milton Friedman once say we need immigrants, but we can’t have unlimited, unchecked immigration while maintaining a welfare state. As far as the population, I think the government could have enacted policies that would have assisted our citizens in having and raising children. We don’t need massive amounts of children. In order to maintain the population, I think you need 2.1 children per woman. With immigration I think our number is 2.8 or something. Without considering immigration we are probably at 1.8. So I am not saying the native born Americans need to start pumping out 4, 5 or 6 kids per woman. We would just have needed to raise the average from 1.8 to about 2.8.

  8. Shipmates, As someone who goes into Boston on a regular basis, I would readilly support a diminishing population in that city. Boston has a HUGE illegal problem, and MS-13 has shown up bigtime the past few years. Areas of Roxbury and Jamaica Plains have daily homicides, and the shootings are becoming even more brazen, daylight, on buses, in plain view, etc. The Dems are terrified of losing the illegals because they need the numbers in order to support their desires of a nanny-state. The cities want more people because they need the taxes, but the taxes are so onerous that the folks are leaving, and so the death-spiral begins. Heck, I’m even giving serious consideration to moving out of Maine, which state I dearly love, because the taxation at the hands of the Dems has gotten so out of hand. Respects,

  9. I am one native American who has moved to the hills – GeekLethal will vouch for the hilliness of my new abode. Another thing that is rarely mentioned is the reason that many people move out is specifically to get away from immigrants. Not my reason, but it’s out there. (Although it is nice to go through a drive through and have the cashier speak English.) Of course our welfare system is nowhere near as precarious as that in Europe, and our immigrants nothing like Europe’s. We’ll have a softer landing, I hope.

  10. Y’all who are so upset about immigration do realize how important immigration is to the United States, right? Not in a prop up the welfare state criticism way, but in a makes the country stronger over time way. If you look through American history you find most generations of existing Americans saying something to the effect of: ‘This country is going to the dogs because of these darn immigrants. They don’t speak our language, they don’t have our religion, they don’t look like us, they don’t eat proper food… yada yada yada.’ Yet… As generations pass, here’s basically what happens in broad strokes. Generation 1 of immigrant group: They are outsiders who are in a crappy situation, take the crappy menial jobs no American wants, and are part of high-crime/low-income areas. They don’t speak English, they isolate themselves into their own neighborhoods, and they are, indeed, not really American. Generation 2 of immigrant group: This generation is a little better off financially, speaks both English and original language, is one of the most active and vibrant sectors in society pushing the envelope economically. This generation sees the possibility of a better future, and really really does not want to live the life of their parents. Hence, they go after success with a drive that later generations rarely match. These guys are successful blue-collar workers, new business owners, or something along those lines. Generation 3 of immigrant group: This generation knows a few words of the original language, remembers Opa talking about Deutschland or whatever, but is in most ways American. They’ve been assimilated culturally and economically. These people have become more professional, more white collar, more wealthy. Don’t believe me? Look through history. Yes, those are broad broad strokes which only try and provide a basic generalization with all the inherent problems of generalization. Sure, you can list me anecdote after anecdote of how bad immigrants are today. However, I simply point to the broad sweep of history and what those immigrants brought to America in the long run. I also remind you that the criticisms of immigrants has not changed, whether the people are Hispanics, as we see today, or Italians, Poles, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and whomever else you want to list from previous years. Is there any doubt that Italians have added to the U.S.? How about Chinese? How about Catholic Germans? How about the Irish? How about the Poles? How about…, well, if you don’t get the picture yet, another example won’t help :) In short, which as a historian I think you can tell I’m not really good at being concise, the code on the Statue of Liberty has worked for us: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door. PS: The professor was right, oil is a luxury in that alternatives can be developed. Water, however, is not, and we already see huge water rights conflicts developing across the world and in the U.S.

  11. I agree with spacey, immigration is a good thing, unchecked immigration is not. You want to be filtering the people to make sure that they are either skilled, or willing to work, or desperate (refugees, etc.). There are plenty of people who want to immigrate and who deserve it. There are also going to be troublemakers and freeloaders. This is the whole point of why illegal immigration is illegal – there is no filtering, and you can’t keep track of them. Illegal immigration should be shut down immediately. Legal channels should be made easier, although not totally trivial. Perhaps there should be more legal slots. I’m pretty sure increasing the number of legal immigrant slots and forcing people to go through those channels is better than massive unchecked illegal immigration.

  12. Rob, I think you gave a good, concise description. However, there are a few things different now. First, the absolute numbers of immigrants, legal and illegal, is significantly higher than anything we have seen. For example, there are more people who were born in El Salvador living in the Washington, DC metro area than ALL the people who have ever immigrated from Poland to the USA in the last 231 years. Second, previous waves of immigrants, whether from Europe or Asia, did not come from nations who had territorial disputes with the USA. There was also a physical barrier, the oceans, that helped to cut the psychological ties to the motherland. Third, without the modern welfare state, people who came here knew they had to sink or swim. Modern immigrants don’t face this as was pointed out in the comments earlier. Fourth, there is no longer pressure to assimilate. Read the comments of Teddy Roosevelt in 1915 and see if he could say that today. When I grew up we were taught the melting pot analogy in which all ingredients are put into a pot and come out similar. We appear to have now adopted the Canadian multicultural approach to immigration. In this model the analogy is a salad bowl and all elements retain their own distinctness. The multicultural approach is further exemplified by the fact that newly naturalized citizens are allowed to retain the citizenship of their native country and vote with ballots in their native language. Remember, to become naturalized you are suppose to be able to read and write basic English. So why would ballots need to be printed in anything but English? And if you want to become an American, why retain your old loyalties? Fifth, in the case of Mexico, I do think there is a legitimate concern. Approximately 1/6 of the Mexican population now lives in the USA. They send back about $20 billion per year which is Mexico’s second largest source of funds. I don’t believe any of this money is taxed when transferred. I would like to see an economist calculate the NEGATIVE multiplier effect of this to our economy. Clearly the Mexican government wants this to continue and thus it is not surprising that they assist people with maps, information and the famous Matr+

  13. Immigrants are an important part of US society, but that assumes immigration stays at reasonable levels. What we are seeing today is nowhere near reasonable. Bill Gates is advocating unlimited H1-B visas. What do you think that will do for the prospects of the US ever again graduating another native born computer programmer or engineer? This is where we are going to end up if we don’t wake up, and it is a frightening future. It is the future as brought to you by the bureaucrats and their welfare state.

  14. Dfens, as an enginieer and hiring manager employed at a large software company, I can tell you that without reform in the H1-B arena, the US risks losing the tech race to other nations, and IMO this would be disasterous. It is *cheaper* for my company to hire a skilled domestic candidate due to the relocation and other immigration costs. The myth that tech companies are paying lower wages to immigrating tech workers is just not true. We pay just as much to the immigrating Chinese or Indian worker, plus all the extra costs associated with them. The job has a set salary, not matter where the candidate is from. If we do not do this, we lose our competitive edge, and the companies that *ARE* hiring the most qualified candidates will beat us in the market, period. The H1-B debate is about getting the most qualified workers, not about paying lower wages. The US benefits greatly from this inflow of brainpower. We get their efforts and ideas, and their kids will tend to be skilled tech workers as well. All to the benefit of US businesses. If the US has no competitive tech industry, what do you think *THAT* will do for the prospects of the US ever graduating another native born computer programmer or engineer?

  15. We lose either way, KTLA. If we hire a bunch of foreign engineers to come in and do the jobs for less money that a bright young engineering prospect could make in other careers, we still lose our industry, we still lose the capability. What’s the difference between that and outsourcing all the jobs to India? The same engineers do the job. The fact of the matter is, the wage of engineers in this country would go up if we put realistic limits on the H1-B visas. The reason they’d go up is because of supply and demand. As the salaries go up, more people go into the field. Some programming jobs can be outsourced, some can’t. Sure if you program video games your job can be outsourced, but if you build missile guidance software your job isn’t going anywhere. The same is true for most embedded software. Writing code is easy. Designing the software and building the algorithms for what it is supposed to do is the hard part. That’s the native capability we need. That’s not the same as engineering. Engineers aren’t a commodity. You don’t just hire some stiff from Islamofacistan and give him a quarter an hour and get the same result as you would if you hired an American. That kind of thinking is remarkably short sighted and unrealistic.

  16. Dfens, I think you missed quite a bit of my post. ‘If we hire a bunch of foreign engineers to come in and do the jobs for less money…’ No, we pay them the same wage. That’s the myth I told you about. ‘we still lose our industry, we still lose the capability’ The capability and industry lies with those engineers. We need engineers, there is a finite number of them on the planet, and we are not producing enough to meet our needs. My company hires every single engineer we can get our hands on that meets our bar. We cannot ever find enough of them, we are *ALWAYS* hiring, and that includes hiring every single domestic college grad we can find. ‘As the salaries go up, more people go into the field.’ Not if you’re out of business because domestic laws forced you tto hire less competent engineers. It’s *ALL* about hiring the best and brightest, and them benefiting OUR industry. ‘Writing code is easy. Designing the software and building the algorithms for what it is supposed to do is the hard part. That’s the native capability we need. That’s not the same as engineering. Engineers aren’t a commodity.’ It *IS* engineering. They’re (or should I say ‘we’re’) called software engineers. Since that’s my field of expertise, that’s the field I’m referring to. ‘You don’t just hire some stiff from Islamofacistan and give him a quarter an hour and get the same result as you would if you hired an American.’ You get a result that is comparable to the skills of the engineer. If the engineer from ‘Islamofacistan’ is more higly skilled than the available American talent pool, you’re better of going with Islamofascistan. I work directly with quite a number of middle eastern engineers, and since my company hires purely on talent, they’re EXACTLY as skilled as the American, European, Indian, and Asian engineers. All of them the best we could find. They also contribute heavily to our economy, send their kids to our schools, and are raising future engineers that will help keep our tech ahead of the rest of the world.

  17. That’s too much detail for the topic of this thread. Long story short, we need to do *BOTH* of these: – Cultivate a homegrown crop of bright tech workers here in the US – Harvest the best minds from around the world for ourselves These are neither mutually exclusive, nor are they optional for us.

  18. KTLA, you are more correct than you think. If we import and hire the best and most educated minds in the world, that is the type of immigration that helps the nation. Illegals that clean toilets, pick crops and send their teenagers to MS-13 gangs and get free health care are not a benefit to the nation. If an abundance of low skill labor helped the economy, Mexico would be a world power. What everyone is missing is that the large cities have large welfare benefits, poor law enforcement and high taxes to pay for the nanny state. That is why the wage earners are moving out. The fear that the city managers have is that the tax base is decreasing while the dependent base is increasing. As the native born move out to the red states, the revenues go down and they have to raise taxes to make up the short fall. That causes even more people to move away. The growth of illegals, who consume more than they provide in taxes (If you believe that it is not true answer this, why is Mexico poor?) just overburdens the nanny state even more. The increase of crime and the reduction of public resources (overcrowding in the emergency rooms, schools,etc) force even more producers out. That is a slow spiral down the drain.

  19. I don’t think you know what an H1-B visa is. It is NOT an educated foreigner coming here to become a US citizen. What it IS is an educated foreigner coming here to work for a while then go home, taking what he learned with him. If you don’t give a damn about anything beyond tomorrow, it’s a great thing for the US. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  20. Dfens: Nope. You’re just wrong up and down this issue. You clearly don’t work or hire these folks personally. These folks aquire roots and stay here. I work with them. Every day. They’re up and down my hallway at this very moment, some of which I hired myself. I’ll be saying hello to them as I go get some coffee in a few minutes (on your recommendation). I’ve been saying it for years, because they STAY (because we pay them just as much as anyone else) and contribute to the tax base and tech dominance of our nation. My company helps them make sure they can stay as long as they remain strong contributors. I’ve had to fill out many forms myself as part of this process. Every time we turn down a visa of one of these really bright folks, some other nation gains just a bit more edge on us.

  21. Obviously there is a whole new world opening up to me now that the DoD is open to the idea of using Turkey build F-35s. But then who gives a rat’s ass about this country, as long as you get yours today? That’s all that really matters.