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Once a Nation on the Move, Relocating Americans Now Barely Cross State Borders

FRIDAY, NOV 15, 2019

Americans are moving less than ever, with fewer than 7.6 million people changing states last year, about 2.3 percent of the population. And when they do move these days, they’re not being terribly adventurous. A Social Explorer analysis found that the top destination for people moving out of more than three dozen states in 2018 was … a neighboring state.

Visualize and analyze the percentage of Americans moving from different states from the year 2009 to 2017.
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Missouri was the top destination for Kansans on the move (29 percent of departing Kansans wound up in the Show-Me State), and Kansas was the top choice (13.8 percent) for Missourians moving out of state. Massachusetts was the top destination for people leaving New Hampshire (42.2 percent), Rhode Island (34.8 percent), and Maine (separated from the commonwealth by a thin 18-mile strip of New Hampshire, 16.6 percent). Georgia was the top destination for Alabama residents who moved out of state (16.9 percent), and Louisiana attracted the greatest share of departing Mississippians (17.7 percent). Out West, Washington – separated from Montana only by the Idaho panhandle — was the biggest draw for people leaving the Big Sky State (12.6 percent), and Colorado was the preferred destination for Wyoming residents moving away from the state (21.9 percent).

While the analysis underscores the ties Americans have to particular regions of the nation, it also highlights the social and economic draws of California, Texas, and New York — a trio of states that account for almost one-third of the entire national gross domestic product and that were the top destinations for one out of every five Americans who changed states in 2018. As it has throughout the postwar era, California stood out as a draw for people on the move. The state, which attracted 691,000 people from other states last year, was the top destination for out-of-state movers from 11 states, with all except Illinois being west of the Mississippi River. Despite epic challenges that include wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, and drought, the Golden State only lost 501,000 to other states; the greatest share of California expats, 7.6 percent, moved to Washington.

Texas, which added another 564,000 residents from other states, was the top draw for movers in five states, all on the border of the Lone Star State except Nebraska. The greatest percentage of the 462,000 people who left the state moved to another popular choice, California (15.3 percent).

New York, which boosted its population with 458,000 people from other states, also emerged as the number one  draw for movers from bordering states, as well as Florida. The largest share of the 254,000 residents who moved out of the state wound up in neighboring New Jersey (40.5 percent).

The analysis identified other states that are popular draws for out-of-state movers. Four states were the top destination for movers from three states: Florida, which attracted the most people from Georgia (18.6 percent), Tennessee (12.8 percent), and North Carolina (11.8 percent); Illinois, which took in the most out-of-state residents from Wisconsin (21.9 percent), Indiana (21.7 percent), and Iowa (21.2 percent); Ohio, which was the top draw for people relocating from Kentucky (13.8 percent), West Virginia (16.6 percent), and Michigan (9.8 percent); and Massachusetts, which received the most out-of-state movers from Maine (16.6 percent), New Hampshire (42.2 percent), and Rhode Island (34.8 percent).

Five states attracted the greatest share of movers from two states: Maryland (Virginia and the District of Columbia); Minnesota (North Dakota and South Dakota); New Jersey (New York and Connecticut); Pennsylvania (Ohio and Delaware); and Washington (California and Montana).


Author: Frank Bass

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