Washington — Americans are leaving the nation's big cities in search of cheaper homes and open spaces farther out.
Nearly every large metropolitan area had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004, with a few exceptions in the South and Southwest, according to a report released Thursday by the Census Bureau.
Northeasterners are moving South and West. West Coast residents are moving inland. Midwesterners are chasing better job markets. And just about everywhere, people are escaping to the outer suburbs, also known as exurbs.
The Census Bureau measured domestic migration - people moving within the United States - from 1990 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2004. The report provides the number of people moving into and out of each state and the 25 largest metropolitan areas.
The states that attracted the most new residents: Florida, Arizona and Nevada. The states that lost the most: New York, California and Illinois.
Among the 25 largest metropolitan areas, 18 had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - the three biggest metropolitan areas - lost the most residents to domestic moves. The New York metropolitan area had a net loss of more than 210,000 residents a year from 2000 to 2004.
The metropolitan area that attracted the most new residents was Riverside, Calif., which has been siphoning residents from Los Angeles for years. Phoenix, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth round out the top five metropolitan areas.