New In-Migrants Add Stability to Curry 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 Curry County, 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 positive in Curry County in 2019. The county netted more than 400 exemptions from 2018 to 2019. In other words, there were 1,581 exemptions that migrated to Curry County and 1,143 exemptions who migrated out of Curry County, for a net migration gain of 438 exemptions or people. Of the 1,581 who migrated to Curry County, 1,141 came from a different state and 440 came from a different county in Oregon. Among the 1,143 who migrated out of Curry County the distribution was more even, 623 left for a different state and 520 migrated to a different county in Oregon.

Population estimates from Portland State University Population Research Center show an increase of 85 residents in Curry County from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019 – trending similarly to the IRS data considering that deaths typically exceed births in Curry County. With our higher average population age, we have needed positive net migration to keep our population stable. Between 2010 and 2020, deaths exceeded births by about 2,066 in Curry County, according to estimates from PSU. Curry County population increased by about 640 during that decade, so we are reliant upon in-migration to maintain our population base. Also not everyone who migrated to or from Curry 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 county with the second largest net in-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” are Coos and Josephine counties. For example, 89 exemptions (or people) moved from Curry to Coos County and 85 migrated from Coos to Curry County, for a net migration to Curry County of four people. But the California net in-migration effect is quite apparent looking at the top net in-migration counties in 2019.
How will increasing 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 region’s economic growth. 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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