For the third consecutive year, more people from out of state have moved to King County than ever before. What are the top states — and one country — that are sending people here?
The people keep coming, and the records keep falling.
Last year, more folks moved to King County from out of state than ever before, based on the number of driver’s licenses issued by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).
Some 76,000 new residents poured into the county from every corner of the country and the globe, but with one out of five of them coming from — where else? — California.
2016 marks the third consecutive year that we’ve broken this particular record for the number of newcomers. We’ve been breaking so many records for population growth lately, perhaps Seattleites are getting a bit desensitized to it.
But here’s some context. In 1990, at the height of the Microsoft boom, the DOL tallied 57,000 newcomers into King County from out of state. It must have seemed astonishing at the time — more than double the number just five years earlier — and that 1990 record held for 24 years.
When we finally smashed it in 2014, I wrote about it as evidence that the Amazon boom was officially bigger than the Microsoft boom. Now, after two more record-breaking years, that point is so obvious it seems hardly worth mentioning.
Here’s another way of looking at it. In terms of single months, nine of the top 10 for in-migration to King County are from the current decade. October 2016 is the current No. 1, with about 8,900 new driver’s licenses issued to folks from out of state in King County.
Seattleites may not complain about Californians moving here as much as they used to, but there are a heck of a lot more these days: A record number of Golden State expats — more than 16,000 — arrived in the county last year.
After California, Texas sent us the most new neighbors, with about 4,700 relocating from the Lone Star State. That’s 1,400 more people than we got from Oregon, which had been second to California for many years. But the number of Texans moving here began to spike about 10 years ago, and in 2011, Texas leapfrogged Oregon into the No. 2 spot. It’s remained there for six consecutive years.
The Beaver State shouldn’t get too comfortable in third place, though. Florida has been surging in recent years — who knew there were so many folks who are sick and tired of sunshine? — and was just barely behind Oregon in 2016. In fact, Florida became the first state other than California, Texas or Oregon to export more than 3,000 folks to King County in a single year. Other sunny states sending a lot more residents our way: Arizona and Georgia.
One country crashed the top 10 list of “states” in 2016 — India, with about 1,900 new licenses issued. The total number of licenses issued to people from other countries hit 8,200 last year, also a record.
Nobody knows how long can we sustain this remarkable rate of growth, but we may have hit peak newcomers. The DOL numbers, which are current through September, show us off last year’s pace by nearly 3,000.
The Washington Department of Licensing began recording data on new drivers from out of state in July 1982.