The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic affected all levels of government in various ways. One of the more surprising factors that put additional pressure on regional and urban local governments, though, was the mass domestic migration it caused.
During the pandemic, an unprecedented number of Americans left major cities for greener - or at least more regional - pastures. According to a report from Bloomberg, 91% of suburban counties and 82% of urban centers saw more people move in than out in 2020.
Factors contributing to America’s mass domestic migration
There are always the usual reasons for domestic migration, such as moving to be closer to family, changing cities to begin college or start a new job, or a change in lifestyle after retiring.
However, with numbers higher than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, additional factors were clearly at play:
Financial stress due to reduced income meant some Americans could no longer afford the higher prices of living in major cities.
With a pivot towards remote working, Americans had the flexibility to choose a location that wasn’t purely based on commuting distance to their workplace.
In terms of virus transmission, overpopulated cities began to present more health risks in comparison to regional areas.
With the usual factors that city living offers off the table, including convenience and proximity to entertainment, many Americans prioritised more spacious and affordable living options.
Impact on local government workers
Although local governments are used to typical levels of population change over the course of a year, the unparalleled growth caused by the pandemic has been challenging. Many regional local government teams were already understaffed and underfinanced. The pandemic saw them not only dealing with the unique obstacles of communicating through a crisis, but also with a rapidly growing population.
On top of this, because of lockdowns and restrictions, more people are dependent on digital solutions than ever before. In fact, according to a McKinsey Global Survey, adoption of digitization has been accelerated by 3 years in North America due to the COVID-19 crisis.
This has created a slew of new and more advanced users of technology, who now expect to be able to interact online with their local governments in a seamless, intuitive way.
Whispir: The simple digital communication solution
To meet these challenges head on and drive engagement with a community that’s grown both in population and technological savviness, effective communication is key. And not just any communication.
Utilizing traditional methods, such as mail drops and paper forms, simply won’t cut it anymore. As well as not being engaging, these older communication forms cost more, expend more resources, and don’t allow for smart data-driven decision making.
On the other hand, digital communication ensures you can connect with your citizens through their preferred channels. Whispir, a multi-channel communications platform, allows you to create and send messages across SMS, email, voice, and more. You can also use data to measure real-time engagement and personalize your communications accordingly.
Better yet, Whispir is designed so that anyone can use it without the need for technical skills or coding. That means you can save yourself significant time whilst simultaneously addressing the unique pain points your local government team is experiencing.
To learn more about how Whispir can help you and gain more valuable insights, download our 7 step guide to handling population growth.