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U.S. Cities That Gained and Lost the Most Workers in 2020

A new look at population shifts of workers shows more moved to smaller cities and out of larger cities in 2020 compared to 2019.

Americans are often on the move, whether seeking sunshine, fleeing natural disasters, or looking for jobs or affordable housing. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, residents were generally leaving 15 mostly colder, northeastern states to head to sunny Florida, according to a 2018 study by Lending Tree. 

Earlier census data show that jobs and affordable housing were behind two-thirds of the long-distance moves made between 2014 and 2015, the Pew Charitable Trusts reported in 2016. Texas has been a magnet for job seekers from other states.

But remote work options in the pandemic may have changed the dynamic. 

Before the pandemic, only one in five workers surveyed worked from home all or most of the time, but 71% were doing their job from home all or most of the time by October 2020, Pew reported

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A new look at population shifts of workers shows more moved to smaller cities and out of larger cities in 2020 compared to 2019. The report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that potentially four to five times as many people would be effective working from home at least part of the time compared to before the pandemic. This would have a profound impact on urban economies, and it is possible that a shift to remote work could slow or even reverse the historical trend of jobs and people concentrating in the largest and most dynamic cities, the report says.

The result, so far, is that more workers moved to smaller U.S. cities and away from larger cities in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the report, The Future of Work, which analyzed data from LinkedIn.

To find the cities where workers are moving to and moving from the most, Mckinsey analyzed data from LinkedIn members changing their location on their profiles. The result is based on the total inflow of workers into an area divided by the total outflow. The cities with the greatest outflow of workers were all large populations, while the cities with the most influx were all small- to medium-size.

Based on the Future of Work report, these are the cities where most workers moved to, and where most workers left.