Ray Carter | May 11, 2023

New report shows continued state population growth

Ray Carter

Multiple reports have shown that Oklahoma has been among the nation’s top states for net in-bound domestic migration starting in 2020, and a new report indicates that trend has continued into 2023.

The report, by online moving company moveBuddha, shows that Oklahoma ranked 11th for the most move-in interest nationwide in 2022 and 15th in early 2023.

“Oklahoma wants to be the next Texas. And by that, we mean they want to see the same booming inflow migration numbers as their rival state to the south,” the report stated. “The Sooner State still has a long way to go to achieve that goal. But based on the moveBuddha migration data since 2020, they are well on their way.”

The moveBuddha report said Oklahoma “is following the same low-tax, high-growth economic playbook as the Lone Star state to draw in more residents, which appears to be working.”

The report primarily used data sourced from moveBuddha’s Moving Cost Calculator with additional city-specific details from the U.S. Census Bureau. The data were collected from Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022, and include a reference to data collected in January 2023.

The data showed that Oklahoma’s inflow-to-outflow search volume ratio in the moveBuddha calculator “has steadily improved since 2020.”

“The move-in-to-move-out search volume ratio was a healthy 1.54 in 2022,” the report stated. “That means that for every 100 people who searched for moves out of Oklahoma, 154 were considering moving to the state last year. That put Oklahoma right behind states like Florida and Tennessee for the most positive ratios.”

The moveBuddha data showed that Oklahoma had a 1.42 inflow-to-outflow ratio in 2021, a ratio of 1.54 in 2022, and a ratio of 1.4 in early 2023.

In a separate report, moveBuddha found that Oklahoma’s in-to-out ratio of 1.54 in 2022 was greater than that of any bordering state except Arkansas, which had a similar ratio. Only nine states had a better in-to-out ratio in 2022.

Critics have claimed that laws passed in recent years—such as those banning male athletes (who identify as female) from participating in girls’ athletics, restrictions on Critical Race Theory in children’s classrooms, and bans on cross-sex hormones or sex-change surgeries for children—are driving people out of Oklahoma.

For example, during a recent debate on the ban on cross-sex hormones for youth, state Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, said, “I’m still getting emails today from parents who are trying to find funding to leave this state.”

But the moveBuddha report is only the latest to show that more people are moving into Oklahoma than leaving the state as those laws are being advanced.

A report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), based on United States Postal Service change-of-address data, showed that more people moved to Oklahoma in 2022 than all but nine other states.

That report validated prior information released by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported that Oklahoma outpaced most of the nation in population growth from July 2020 to July 2021, driven primarily by an influx of people moving to Oklahoma from other states.

Data on net domestic migration contained in the 2023 edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” along with data from prior editions of the report, showed that the level of net domestic migration to Oklahoma in 2021 was the largest such influx in at least 25 years.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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