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Americans are on the road again. Americans tended to stay where they were during the Great Recession with its plummeting housing costs and rising unemployment, but now Census Bureau data show they are more willing to pack up and move west and south.

A bureau report said that 40 of the 50 fastest growing metropolitan areas were in the South and West last year, the Wall Street Journal reported. Nineteen of the 20 counties with the largest inflow of people were in the West, South and Great Plains states.

And the relocations are coming at the expense of metropolitan regions in the Northeast and Midwest that lost population between July 2011 and July 2012. Nationally, about 4 percent of the population moved to another county in 2011.

“The dam has broken on the pent-up demand for migration,” said William Frey of the Brookings Institution. “There is the beginning of a shift back to the Sunbelt, as many Snowbelt movers who were frozen in place are now moving to South and West metropolitan areas.”

Some of the largest population gains occurred in North Dakota, Montana and Texas counties benefiting from the oil-and-gas boom.

However, a Wall Street Journal map accompanying its report showed that several Northern New York counties benefited from the population shift. Jefferson, Lewis, Franklin and Hamilton counties saw gains of up to 2 percent last year, which makes the January unemployment rates exceeding 12 percent for the tricounty region even more distressing. People are moving here to find work, but they are not getting jobs.

Lewis County’s 12.7 percent rate, up from 12.3 percent from a year ago, ties it with Oswego County for the second highest rate in the state after Bronx County’s 13.4 percent. St. Lawrence County’s rate stayed the same at 12.1 percent.

Jefferson County’s unemployment rate rose from 11.9 to 12.3 percent, which is particularly disturbing since it is one of most economically prosperous in Upstate New York due to the growth and investment related to Fort Drum.

The rising rates are a sign of failed leadership by both parties in Washington that are not focused on the economy. They also show a failure of New York state leaders, who have not yet created an environment conducive to economic growth with still too many obstacles to investment.

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