Mobility Falls to a Record Low as Americans Stay Put


Young adults are not leaving home and getting their own apartments. Too many are unemployed or uncertain of their futures. Older people are not moving to their dream retirement areas. They are possibly underwateron their current homes and are reluctant to sell and take a significant loss, or their nest egg isn’t as valuable as it was 5 years ago. They too are staying put. U.S. mobility is at its lowest point since World War II.

New information from the Census Bureau highlights the continuing impact of the housing bust and unemployment on U.S. migration. Americans have always had a penchant for changing locations … moving for a better home, a more prestigious location, better school districts, better weather, better job opportunities.

Rather than the Sunbelt states of Arizona, Florida and Nevada being housing magnets, it is now more traditional, densely populated states – California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey – that are showing some of the biggest population gains. There are significant economic problems created by the long-term reduction of migration.

Westward and Sunbelt migration has created massive economies in states like Nevada and Arizona and rather than continuing the expansion of the nation, the country is basically stagnating. The percentage of moves into Florida, and Nevada is now only 50% of what it was during the boom years between 2000 and 2007.

About 11.6 percent of the nation’s population, or 35.1 million people, moved in the past year, down from 12.5 percent in the previous year. This is still about a 1% move rate every month. But it’s a 10% overall reduction in migration. It’s also the lowest move rate in the 60+ years we’ve tracked these statistics. This compares to a move rate of 21.2% in 1951.

In all, the housing boom and subsequent bust during the last decade took a toll on virtually all ages and racial groups. As the producers of the nation’s premier pre-mover and new-mover mailing lists, we track trends in migration and how they impact on direct marketing to these two key groups. Mover lists are used by more mailers than any other type of list, and their annual volume makes them an important part of the mail plans of many companies.