An Analysis of Differential Migration Patterns in the Black Belt and the New South

The South has recently become a major economic hub and population magnet in the United States. This study examines if the Black Belt, a historically declining region within the South, has experienced a similar renaissance. The study also examines how local factors differentially influence migrants from the Black Belt and migrants from outside the South. The study identifies primary hot spots for Black Belt and non-Black Belt migrants. The data come from yearly internal migration files from 1996 to 2007 compiled by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Census Bureau. The data show that both the Black Belt and the rest of the South experienced a net in-flow of migrants from other U.S. regions. However, the Black Belt had a net population loss to more prosperous areas within the South. The data also show that the Southern hot spots for migrants from the Black Belt are different than those for non-Black Belt migrants. The findings support a singular conclusion: the population growth of the New South is brought about largely because of changes in migration flows of Black Belt migrants.