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Pierce, Snohomish Counties See Big Population Gains As People Relocate

"Mount Rainier at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge" by Jonathan Miske is licensed under CC by 2.0.

Pierce and Snohomish counties are among the nation's top destinations for people moving within the United States, beating out even tech-infused King County, according to new U.S. Census data. 

The Census Bureau measures something called net domestic migration. It’s the balance of people who moved to and from a particular place.

Of the nation's more than 3,000 counties, Pierce and Snohomish were in the top 25 for domestic migration, with net gains of more than 10,000 people each between July 2015 and July 2016, according to figures released this month.

The domestic migration level doubled in each county over the prior year.

The growth could be a sign that Seattle's tech-industry boom is rippling outward, and benefiting the broader region with ancillary jobs in construction and other fields, said Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Director Josh Brown.

Newcomers might come for work in King County, but settle on the outskirts.

"They may be helping to build Amazon's campus in downtown Seattle or helping the Facebook expansion out on the east side," Brown said.

"But those folks that are working those construction jobs are coming from everywhere. They might be coming from Auburn, they might be coming from Puyallup, they might be coming from Monroe." 

King County's housing costs, among the fastest-rising in the nation, also make the neighboring counties more attractive, Brown said.

Pierce County had the 18th highest domestic migration in the United States, with a net gain of nearly 12,000 people.

Snohomish was 23rd, with a net gain of more than 10,000 people from domestic migration.

King County, with a net gain of 8,500 people from within the United States, was 27th for domestic migration, but beat the neighboring counties on international migration.

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.