For most of the 20th century, many Americans moved from the rural South to the urban Northeast and Midwest. More recently, Americans have migrated heavily to states in the Sun Belt, such as Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.
While the decision to move is complex and subject to a number of intangibles, there are a few principal reasons why a person may move to a new state. Based on the net inflow of new residents from other states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven states where Americans are moving to the most.
According to Dr. Rebecca Tippett, Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center, there are three historical factors that influence where a person moves: higher education, job opportunities, and familial or spousal affiliations. Another factor has developed more recently, Dr. Tippett told us. Families are considering quality of life factors in a given area when deciding on where to move. Tippett said that this “captures a lot of the current trend in the South and West. You move because it’s a lower cost of living. Maybe you can afford larger homes, taxes are lower, and the weather’s better.”
Many states where Americans are moving today meet these criteria. In the two-year period ending in 2014, the states gaining the most new residents from other states had above average employment growth, surpassing the national growth rate of 3.7%. Colorado, which had one of the largest net inflows of new residents from other parts of the country, also had the second highest employment growth in the U.S., at 6.4%.
While many of those who relocate presumably do so for better economic opportunity, moving can still be prohibitively expensive. As a result, interstate migration is mostly done by those who can afford to do so. As Dr. Tippett told us, “poor people may move more frequently, but in shorter distances. For example, they may be moving between rented apartments in the same area. Whereas people moving across state lines… may have more money.”
Across the country, the median income of those who moved to a new area within the last year was significantly lower than that of established residents. In states such as Vermont and South Dakota, where not many Americans relocated, established residents made more than one and a half times that of newcomers. In most of the popular states for interstate migration, however, the difference in incomes was less than 10%. The opportunity for better-paying jobs may be the reason for this smaller difference, as well as a factor that leads more Americans to move to these states.
In every state that Americans moved to the most between 2013 and 2014, migration was no new phenomenon. Over the last decade, population growth in each of these states exceeded the national growth rate of 10.6%. The states that experienced the greatest net loss of new residents between 2013 and 2014 all trailed the national population growth rate.
Interstate migration shifts throughout American history. Currently, it seems that the South-Northeast-Midwest migration pattern of the 20th century is reversed. And as Dr. Tippett reminds us, “Whether it’s a permanent trend, or going to reverse in another 20 years or so, who knows? These things do ebb and flow.”
To identify the states where Americans are moving the most, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed state-to-state migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Median income, educational attainment, population change, and property tax information came from the ACS as well. We also looked at employment and GDP growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and and regional price parity from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
These are the seven states where Americans are moving the most.