Special Report

Study Shows Which States People Are Moving To (and Leaving)

The migration pattern for Americans continues to be toward the West and the South, according to the results of the latest United Van Lines annual national movers study.

The pace of those moving to Mountain and Pacific states was higher than people leaving those states, and the rate of inbound migration in the Mountain and Pacific states was higher than most of the rest of the nation, according to the study. Six of the top 10 states — Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and South Dakota — were Mountain or Pacific states. Southern states North and South Carolina also were in the top 10 for inbound migration.

Based on population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, which takes into account births, deaths, domestic and international migration, all six states posted population increases of more than 1% in 2018, compared with a population gain of 0.62% for the U.S.

The annual study tracks migration patterns of United Van Lines customers within the United States.

“The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges, and more temperate climates,” said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a statement published by United Van Lines.

The state with the highest inbound migration rate was Vermont, where 72.6% of the 234 total moves with United Van Lines were inbound. Vermont is somewhat of an exception, however, as the state posted a population increase of just 0.28% in 2018, below the U.S. average of 0.62%, according to U.S. Census data.   

In terms of outbound migration, New Jersey topped the United Van Lines list, with 66.8% of the 4,430 moves in an out of the state last year. New Jersey has been ranked in the top 10 for outbound migration for the past 10 years. Even so, New Jersey’s population is growing, posting a relatively small increase of 0.22% to 8.9 million in 2018, according to Census statistics.

Of the top 10 outbound states, seven are located in the Northeast and the so-called Rust Belt — New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Among the most frequently cited reasons for people leaving these states are retirement and being closer to their family. All seven states have posted population changes below the U.S. average of 0.62%, and three — New York, Connecticut, and Illinois — recorded population losses in 2018, according to Census data.

State Total moves From To % From % To Population
Vt. 234 64 170 27.4% 72.6% 626,299
Ore. 3,346 1,210 2,136 36.2% 63.8% 4,190,713
Idaho 1,172 441 731 37.6% 62.4% 1,754,208
Nev. 2,103 804 1,299 38.2% 61.8% 3,034,392
Ariz. 6,200 2,470 3,730 39.8% 60.2% 7,171,646
S.C. 3,871 1,553 2,318 40.1% 59.9% 5,084,127
Wash. 8,791 3,620 5,171 41.2% 58.8% 7,535,591
N.C. 8,398 3,610 4,788 43.0% 57.0% 10,383,620
S.D. 381 164 217 43.0% 57.0% 882,235
Tenn. 4,639 2,027 2,612 43.7% 56.3% 6,770,010
Del. 677 296 381 43.7% 56.3% 967,171
Fla. 15,385 6,832 8,553 44.4% 55.6% 21,299,325
N.H. 809 368 441 45.5% 54.5% 1,356,458
Ala. 2,304 1,050 1,254 45.6% 54.4% 4,887,871
Colo. 7,205 3,331 3,874 46.2% 53.8% 5,695,564
Wyo. 474 221 253 46.6% 53.4% 577,737
Ga. 8,001 3,748 4,253 46.8% 53.2% 10,519,475
Texas 18,154 8,572 9,582 47.2% 52.8% 28,701,845
Okla. 1,672 793 879 47.4% 52.6% 3,943,079
Pa. 6,090 2,917 3,173 47.9% 52.1% 12,807,060
Minn. 3,043 1,479 1,564 48.6% 51.4% 5,611,179
Ind. 2,923 1,425 1,498 48.8% 51.2% 6,691,878
N.M. 1,790 876 914 48.9% 51.1% 2,095,428
R.I. 770 379 391 49.2% 50.8% 1,057,315
Miss. 1,250 618 632 49.4% 50.6% 2,986,530
Ark. 1,254 623 631 49.7% 50.3% 3,013,825
Maine 1,025 519 506 50.6% 49.4% 1,338,404
Mo. 4,038 2,061 1,977 51.0% 49.0% 6,126,452
N.D. 571 293 278 51.3% 48.7% 760,077
Va. 10,054 5,184 4,870 51.6% 48.4% 8,517,685
Utah 1,926 995 931 51.7% 48.3% 3,161,105
W.Va. 396 205 191 51.8% 48.2% 1,805,832
Neb. 1,227 645 582 52.6% 47.4% 1,929,268
Md. 3,740 1,985 1,755 53.1% 46.9% 6,042,718
Ky. 2,444 1,307 1,137 53.5% 46.5% 4,468,402
Wis. 2,870 1,549 1,321 54.0% 46.0% 5,813,568
La. 2,294 1,246 1,048 54.3% 45.7% 4,659,978
Calif. 22,945 12,473 10,472 54.4% 45.6% 39,557,045
Mich. 4,223 2,322 1,901 55.0% 45.0% 9,995,915
Mont. 1,392 766 626 55.0% 45.0% 1,062,305
Iowa 1,309 727 582 55.5% 44.5% 3,156,145
Mass. 4,460 2,484 1,976 55.7% 44.3% 6,902,149
Ohio 6,346 3,588 2,758 56.5% 43.5% 11,689,442
Kan. 2,335 1,370 965 58.7% 41.3% 2,911,505
N.Y. 7,744 4,764 2,980 61.5% 38.5% 19,542,209
Conn. 2,367 1,467 900 62.0% 38.0% 3,572,665
Ill. 7,629 5,026 2,603 65.9% 34.1% 12,741,080
N.J. 4,430 2,959 1,471 66.8% 33.2% 8,908,520