10 states where the most people are moving (and leaving)

Douglas A. McIntyre
24/7 Wall Street

Based on people who move in and out of states, people are moving to small states and leaving large ones. According to recently released United Van Lines’ 41st Annual National Movers Study, this is partly because of new relocation habits of Baby Boomers.

State-by-state data show where people are “moving in.” Vermont tops the list.

Many Boomers have traditionally located to the South to find warm weather, and Florida has gotten the reputation as the state where people from the large population centers in the Northeast retire. Apparently, areas in the Mountain States and the Pacific Northwest have become more popular. As a matter of fact, “nearly 55% of total moves to and from the Mountain West (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) were inbound.” Just over 52% of the movement to the Pacific Western states was inbound, more proof of a migration West.

The state-by-state data show where people are “moving in.” Ranked, they are:

  1. Vermont
  2. Oregon
  3. Idaho
  4. Nevada
  5. South Dakota
  6. Washington
  7. South Carolina
  8. North Carolina
  9. Colorado
  10. Alabama

While North Carolina and South Carolina buck the trend of westward movement, only Vermont, at No. 1, is an exception to the rule people are staying in the Northwest.

The states that are losing people as they move away are almost exclusively in the Northeast or the Rust Belt. The “moving out” states, according to the survey:

  1. Illinois
  2. New Jersey
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. Kansas
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Ohio
  8. Kentucky
  9. Utah
  10. Wisconsin

Kansas and Utah are the notable exceptions.

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Among the major reasons for the migrations are economic ones. According to Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles:

This year’s data reflects longer-term trends of movement to the western and southern states, especially to those where housing costs are relatively lower, climates are more temperate and job growth has been at or above the national average, among other factors. We’re also seeing continued migration to the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West as young professionals and retirees leave California.

The old saying “Go West, young man” no longer seems to apply.

Methodology: United Van Lines has tracked migration patterns annually on a state-by-state basis since 1977. For 2017, the study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. This study ranks states based on the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state. United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55% or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55% or more moves were coming out of a state, or “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.

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