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Urban migration seeing a reversal in US

19 January 20210 comments

A steady stream of migrants is leaving the US’ heavily populated north-eastern states for the nation’s western and southern regions, according to a new survey.

In its 44th Annual National Migration Study, United Van Lines found that migration to western and southern states from northern states has been a prevalent pattern for the past several years.

The study, which tracked the company’s 2020 customer data for state-to-state migration patterns, found the greatest percentage of people moved to Idaho, with an inbound migration of 70 percent.

The greatest percentage of people left New Jersey, with an outbound migration of 70 percent. New Jersey has held the top outbound spot for the past three years.

States with the top inbound migration rates last year, following Idaho, were South Carolina (64 per cent), Oregon (63 per cent), South Dakota (62 per cent) and Arizona (62 per cent).

States with the top outbound migration, following New Jersey, were New York (67 per cent), Illinois (67 per cent), Connecticut (63 per cent) and California (59 per cent).

United Van Lines conducts a survey examining the reasons why their clients moved to different states. In 2020, it found that 40 per cent moved for a new job or job transfer. More than one in four (27 per cent) moved to be closer to family, a significant increase from the previous year.

For customers who cited COVID-19 as a reason for their move, top reasons were concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing (60 per cent) and a desire to be closer to family (59 per cent).

Others moved as a result of changes in employment status or work arrangements (57 per cent), including the ability to work remotely, and 53 per cent expressed seeking a lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life.

Minnesota led the list of states people moved to be closer to family (41 per cent); Wyoming led as the primary destination for those seeking a lifestyle change (nearly 29 per cent).

More people migrated to Nebraska for a new job or job transfer than any other state (72 per cent), and more people moved to Idaho due to the cost of living than any other state.

The top inbound states (with 250 moves or more) in 2020 were Idaho, South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas.

The top outbound states in 2020 were New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, California, Kansas, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Ohio and Maryland.

Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and American Community Survey data has revealed some other interesting trends in how people are moving within the United States:

Internal migration rates are at an all-time low since the Census Bureau began the CPS surveys in the 1940s. Moves dropped off significantly during the so called ‘Great Recession’ of 2008 and have stayed low since.

Of everyone who moves within the US, most are local moves within counties, rather than across states or between states, the bureau said.

As with the United Vans survey, the census data shows states in the Northeast and Midwest are seeing a net negative internal migration rate. More people are leaving these states than are entering these states.

Meanwhile, sun-belt states in the southern US are seeing a net influx from internal migration.

Some of the country’s largest cities are also seeing a net negative internal migration rate. Places like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago would be shrinking, except for the influx of migrants from other countries.

Larger cities that are seeing urban growth tend to be located in southern states, like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville.

More people are moving out of cities and into suburbs, smaller towns, and rural areas than are moving into urban areas, the census data found.

Even though there is a net negative internal migration in many regions of the country and in urban areas in general, these places are not shrinking. International migration makes up for the deficit. Many of these areas are seeing growth overall due to immigrants from abroad, the US Census Bureau said.