As COVID-19 took hold in 2020, El Pasoans looking to move went to neighboring Doña Ana County and the San Antonio and Phoenix areas as their most likely destinations, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service.

And the people most likely to move to El Paso between 2020 and 2021 were from those same three areas, according to the data drawn from tax returns.

Overall, tax returns filed for 2021 showed that 1,600 more people moved out of El Paso County than moved in over the previous year. That is the most recent year for migration data from the IRS, which tracks both individual returns and number of declared dependents on those returns to generate its numbers.

The top counties for migration to and from El Paso have remained fairly consistent over the years, with much of the movement involving our most immediate urban neighbor in Doña Ana County, major Southwest cities, and counties with large military installations.

Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico has long been the top destination for people moving from El Paso, in line with national trends that show that more than half of all moves are less than 50 miles. The San Antonio area (Bexar County) and the Phoenix area (Maricopa County) also have long drawn large numbers of El Pasoans.

Given the frequent movement in and out of Fort Bliss, several top destination counties are home to major Army bases – Fort Carson in the other El Paso County in Colorado Springs; Fort Hood in Bell County, Texas; Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state; and international locations with APO or FPO ZIP codes.

You can search the table below to see how many people moved from El Paso to a particular county. For privacy reasons, the IRS only lists counties that were destinations for 20 or more tax filers.

County going to Number of tax returns Number of people Adjusted gross income (in thousands)
Dona Ana County, NM1,0692,20943,029
Bexar County, TX7271,49341,871
Foreign – APO/FPO ZIPs, FR38495322,518
Maricopa County, AZ48392521,463
El Paso County, CO27670013,818
Harris County, TX33763217,227
Tarrant County, TX31057815,270
Bell County, TX23157012,676
Ector County, TX2315529,604
Pierce County, WA20853411,516
Honolulu County, HI19753210,243
Dallas County, TX31951614,718
Midland County, TX22951011,090
Travis County, TX33550316,761
Otero County, NM2094956,839
Cumberland County, NC1654298,467
Los Angeles County, CA2444168,943
San Diego County, CA1813349,404
Montgomery County, TN1243257,212
Williamson County, TX15830910,852
Bernalillo County, NM1863037,743
Comanche County, OK1142966,229
Clark County, NV1572888,402
Liberty County, GA1012693,838
San Bernardino County, CA1092564,536
Collin County, TX1162277,904
Denton County, TX1052157,486
Muscogee County, GA852154,743
Pima County, AZ1082127,008
Riverside County, CA911953,500
Richland County, SC811824,460
Adams County, CO811492,725
Denver County, CO771283,176
Thurston County, WA691884,207
Fairbanks North Star Borough, AK661633,158
Lubbock County, TX661223,365
Hillsborough County, FL651523,701
Fairfax County, VA6516910,005
Orange County, FL641293,302
King County, WA641053,117
Pulaski County, MO631823,568
Cook County, IL611002,578
Cochise County, AZ601573,278
Oklahoma County, OK601042,025
Montgomery County, TX591153,357
Geary County, KS581942,948
Jefferson County, NY581553,231
Hidalgo County, TX581153,859
Miami-Dade County, FL551143,296
Hays County, TX55863,044
Orange County, CA54862,557
Eddy County, NM531182,632
Pinal County, AZ511172,442
Arapahoe County, CO481021,877
Guadalupe County, TX481143,194
Christian County, KY471422,002
Lea County, NM46831,644
Fort Bend County, TX46971,996
Richmond County, GA451172,279
Comal County, TX44914,511
Duval County, FL43911,513
Coryell County, TX431291,959
Sacramento County, CA42782,141
Chatham County, GA411001,720
Nueces County, TX41862,471
Broward County, FL39822,392
Montgomery County, MD39772,376
Anchorage Municipality, AK37792,004
Harnett County, NC361092,050
Taylor County, TX3666993
Tom Green County, TX36681,225
Foreign – Puerto Rico, FR36711,415
Madison County, AL35802,180
Lincoln County, NM35701,625
Prince George County, VA351081,901
Weld County, CO34831,172
Vernon Parish, LA341002,059
Dale County, AL33872,229
Santa Clara County, CA33652,799
New York County, NY33441,853
Cameron County, TX33641,917
Salt Lake County, UT3358866
Okaloosa County, FL32711,564
Columbia County, GA32831,804
Hardin County, KY32812,285
Chaves County, NM32631,414
Jefferson County, CO31631,516
Brazoria County, TX31641,784
Reeves County, TX31611,181
Pinellas County, FL30461,359
Hudspeth County, TX3066936
Anne Arundel County, MD29722,415
Santa Fe County, NM29453,642
Kern County, CA28611,045
Riley County, KS28731,971
Mecklenburg County, NC28721,679
District of Columbia, DC27481,567
Brevard County, FL27641,255
Hoke County, NC27881,476
Utah County, UT27752,210
Jackson County, MO2652873
Kings County, NY26371,544
Yuma County, AZ25641,600
Alameda County, CA25311,304
Polk County, FL2442856
Fulton County, GA24301,041
Gwinnett County, GA2445994
Tulsa County, OK2447865
Brazos County, TX24541,155
Newport News city, VA2462988
Middlesex County, MA23371,337
Orange County, NY23431,566
Pecos County, TX2342693
Russell County, AL22551,193
Osceola County, FL2245824
Bryan County, GA22671,681
Luna County, NM2242925
Sandoval County, NM22481,201
Wake County, NC2249787
Potter County, TX2232471
Webb County, TX22501,115
Chesterfield County, VA22531,164
Prince William County, VA22431,330
Coffee County, AL21531,912
Contra Costa County, CA2141863
San Joaquin County, CA21481,030
Ventura County, CA2140843
Boulder County, CO21431,143
DeKalb County, GA2132457
Polk County, IA2136784
Prince George’s County, MD21391,315
Parker County, TX21371,892
Ward County, TX2139785
Arlington County, VA21332,401
Clark County, WA2137844
Kitsap County, WA2137832
Pueblo County, CO2049792
Queens County, NY2035854
Davidson County, TN20401,958
Ellis County, TX20391,423

Where people are moving from

A number of the top destinations for El Pasoans also appear on the list of the counties with the largest number of people moving to El Paso.

The IRS data indicates that at least 0.8% of Doña Ana County’s population in 2020 had moved to El Paso the following year. By contrast, at least 0.3% of El Paso County’s population in 2020 had moved to Doña Ana County.

You can search the table below to see how many people moved to El Paso from a particular county. For privacy reasons, the IRS only lists counties that were origin points for 20 or more tax filers.

County coming from Number of tax returns Number of people Adjusted gross income (in thousands)
Dona Ana County, NM9391,85742,463
Foreign – APO/FPO ZIPs, FR5931,41331,963
Bexar County, TX51398325,359
Maricopa County, AZ41982519,992
Los Angeles County, CA39672119,710
Honolulu County, HI22862712,088
San Diego County, CA26154312,474
Ector County, TX2535159,110
El Paso County, CO20350110,860
Dallas County, TX29650014,264
Harris County, TX26649012,845
Midland County, TX23747910,293
Tarrant County, TX24245411,007
Bell County, TX1744158,240
Pierce County, WA1513968,733
Travis County, TX27036414,228
Clark County, NV1863487,780
San Bernardino County, CA1543387,090
Bernalillo County, NM1873227,731
Cumberland County, NC1173006,453
Otero County, NM1382984,795
Muscogee County, GA1132866,360
Comanche County, OK1072726,140
Riverside County, CA1312576,546
Cook County, IL1182556,112
Adams County, CO1232444,526
Pima County, AZ1092276,748
Orange County, CA1132246,397
Denver County, CO981994,126
Arapahoe County, CO961853,663
Montgomery County, TN942404,532
Collin County, TX921645,207
Jefferson County, NY892654,489
Williamson County, TX861605,903
Denton County, TX771124,280
Lubbock County, TX771352,647
Lea County, NM681633,232
Miami-Dade County, FL661302,534
Eddy County, NM661443,019
Liberty County, GA621692,971
Fairbanks North Star Borough, AK611532,861
Orange County, FL601162,531
Hillsborough County, FL571092,710
Weld County, CO551292,371
Geary County, KS551562,977
Coryell County, TX551642,756
Hidalgo County, TX551154,691
King County, WA551097,165
Cochise County, AZ541283,212
Pulaski County, MO531684,216
Richland County, SC531383,211
Kings County, NY52732,543
Sandoval County, NM491133,649
Thurston County, WA491473,025
Oklahoma County, OK48951,710
Christian County, KY441201,953
Fairfax County, VA441224,133
Sacramento County, CA43851,771
Richmond County, GA43821,937
Broward County, FL42862,110
Leavenworth County, KS421373,989
Salt Lake County, UT41851,878
Cameron County, TX40933,090
Harnett County, NC391291,769
Dale County, AL381002,295
Hardin County, KY381082,549
Hudspeth County, TX38761,888
Reeves County, TX38711,347
Hays County, TX37561,342
Vernon Parish, LA361061,909
Montgomery County, TX35731,904
Nueces County, TX35671,856
Prince George County, VA351132,131
Coffee County, AL34711,894
Kern County, CA34601,548
Anne Arundel County, MD34912,093
Anchorage Municipality, AK33681,798
Yuma County, AZ33671,965
Santa Clara County, CA33673,406
Chattahoochee County, GA33971,854
Oakland County, MI33782,501
New York County, NY33424,115
Foreign – Puerto Rico, FR33831,530
Pinal County, AZ32691,545
Montgomery County, MD32702,729
Taylor County, TX32571,039
Fresno County, CA31581,344
Jefferson County, CO31811,177
Chaves County, NM31551,549
Newport News city, VA31901,960
Duval County, FL30551,267
Luna County, NM2961794
Brewster County, TX29481,503
Fort Bend County, TX29651,512
Alameda County, CA28531,853
Chatham County, GA28731,608
Brazoria County, TX28562,649
San Joaquin County, CA27681,150
Hennepin County, MN27451,716
Galveston County, TX27511,735
Webb County, TX27581,457
Ventura County, CA26601,188
Columbia County, GA26701,687
Marion County, IN26421,120
Lincoln County, NM26441,313
Queens County, NY26421,175
Potter County, TX2660896
Jackson County, MO2546827
Bronx County, NY2548908
Tulsa County, OK25451,110
McLennan County, TX2535948
Prince George’s County, MD24401,434
Douglas County, NE24581,329
Washoe County, NV24361,625
Onslow County, NC2457882
Franklin County, OH24481,115
Pecos County, TX2449866
Tom Green County, TX2456747
Gwinnett County, GA2350957
Randall County, TX23531,260
Virginia Beach city, VA23501,190
Shelby County, TN22391,805
Prince William County, VA22511,616
Contra Costa County, CA21311,902
Okaloosa County, FL21571,057
Fulton County, GA21391,237
Santa Fe County, NM2141651
Milwaukee County, WI21441,274
Boulder County, CO2034966
Palm Beach County, FL20391,193
Pasco County, FL20521,270
Kane County, IL2035833
Riley County, KS2035926
Suffolk County, NY20221,021
Multnomah County, OR20321,033
Brazos County, TX20341,149
Ward County, TX2036535

The net effect

According to the Census Bureau, El Paso has had more people moving away to other U.S. communities than moving in for several decades. Tax data shows a similar impact, though on a smaller scale. Many people are not required to file income tax returns because of low incomes.

For each of the past 10 years, IRS data show that more people left El Paso than moved in. But the gap has narrowed in recent years.

One reason for the narrowing gap is that fewer El Pasoans are being drawn to oil jobs in the Permian Basin.

The two big oil patch counties in Texas’ Permian Basin – Ector and Midland – have been major draws for El Pasoans during energy boom years. But oil prices have been on a decline since 2014, and collapsed at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly reducing the number of jobs in the Permian Basin.

As a result, just over 1,000 people moved from El Paso to those two Permian Basin counties between 2020 and 2021, the lowest total in eight years. Almost as many people moved from those two counties to El Paso.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.