New In-Migrants Add Stability to Coos County Population

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 Coos County, but it also reveals the county of origin for those moving here. 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 positive in Coos County in 2019. The county netted more than 400 exemptions from 2018 to 2019. In other words, there were 3,046 exemptions that migrated to Coos County and 2,613 exemptions who migrated out of Coos County, for a net migration gain of 433 exemptions or people. Of the 3,046 who migrated to Coos County, 1,872 came from a different state and 1,174 came from a different county in Oregon. Among the 2,613 who migrated out of Coos County, 1,407 left for a different state and 1,206 migrated to a different county in Oregon.

Population estimates from Portland State University Population Research Center show essentially unchanged population in Coos County from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019 – trending similarly to the IRS data considering deaths typically exceed birth in Coos County. With our higher average population age, we have needed positive net migration to keep our population stable. Between 2010 and 2020, deaths exceed births by about 2,900 in Coos County, according to estimates from PSU. Also not everyone who migrated to or from Coos County 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.
The top net migration counties include many in California. Note that the largest net migration was from Butte County, CA, where the Paradise fire displaced so many residents. These net figures mask the areas that we have a stronger population exchange with. Our strongest “population trading partners” were Lane, Douglas and Curry counties in Oregon. For example, 256 exemptions (or people) moved from Coos to Lane County and 228 migrated from Lane to Coos County, for a net migration to Coos County of -28 people. But the California net in-migration effect is quite apparent looking at the top net in-migration counties in 2019.

How will rising home prices, which have now spiked past pre-recession levels, and the supply of new housing impact migration trends in the coming years? This will be something to watch in the future. However, it is important to remember that our positive net migration has been an essential component to the broader economic gains we have seen in this current expansion. New people become critical contributors to our local labor force, create or relocate businesses at the South Coast, 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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