Fairfax County has a deficit problem. It has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in resident income yearly — $3.1 billion over five years, more than all but five other counties in the U.S. The loss isn’t a result of the outsourcing of jobs, and the money isn’t owed to China. Instead, the county hemorrhaged wealthy residents to other jurisdictions.
More families left Fairfax for elsewhere than fled Detroit’s Wayne County. In recent years, 210,000 families making an average of $70,000 departed, taking with them $15 billion in tax revenue. They were replaced with 193,000 families making about $60,000 each.
An analysis by The Washington Times of migration data showed that the capital area’s population grew during the recession, not because of an influx of families moving from other American cities attracted to its relative economic stability, but in spite of a net loss of 26,000 families, many of them large, to outside the region between 2005 and 2008.
(For a detailed spreadsheet of the national data, click here.)
In 2009, a striking change occurred, with a net increase of 15,000 tax filers moving to the region, largely singles and small families settling inside the Capital Beltway.
The area’s steady population despite net exchange losses with other U.S. counties indicates the extent to which growth has relied on foreign immigrants, in addition to natural growth. The figures also give an otherwise-unseen measure of the attractiveness of localities regionally and across the country.
And they show how, as residents’ concept of the American dream has changed, some local jurisdictions quietly saw an outflow of wealth and people rivaled by few in the nation.
The Fairfax losses occurred mostly during the building boom of five years ago, with most residents moving within the region to neighboring Loudoun and Prince William counties. Others, counted as leaving the D.C. metropolitan region, moved further out to Charles County, Md.; Stafford, Va., or more rural parts hours south, where spacious housing for large families was affordable.
Now, a reversal is taking place, with outlying counties becoming refuges for large families and immigrants as much as the great suburban frontier.
For the first time in recent memory, the District attracted more wealth than it shed as residents have revitalized the urban core. And according to the 2010 American Community Survey, more people moved to Fairfax last year than to any other local jurisdiction.
“The traditional notion that there are inner cities which are disadvantaged and are surrounded by an wealthy inner ring of suburbs is changing,” said John Iceland, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University.
In numbers of families, the 17,000 who moved out of Fairfax, yet were not replaced by families moving in, ranked the 18th-largest loss in the nation. Prince George’s ranked 17th.
The Internal Revenue Service tracks the mobility of Americans by comparing their tax returns with those from the previous year. The tallies give a detailed measure of the migration patterns by income and family size. They do not include new immigrants or some elderly and poor.
Montgomery County saw its first net increase in families in years in 2009, the newly released data reveals, and its families are no longer moving en masse to Frederick, which lost migrants in 2009. Since that year, growth in the outer suburbs has increasingly come from large families and poor immigrants, while the average family size in Montgomery has declined, census figures show.
Just as expansion to outlying areas came at the expense of the inner core, the reversal raises questions about how the face of the exurbs will change.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Join the Communities and submit your column in response to one written, or on something totally new and unique. We want to hear from you
Entering the world of first time parents, there are lots of secrets unveiled.
Take a look at our pet friendly reviews and travel tips or find the best vacation deals and activities compiled by the The Washington Times Communities experts.
When you need to know who is making business, and what business is being made, you need the Business Browser.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall