Special Report

Cities Americans Are Abandoning

More than 10% of Americans move each year, equating to tens of millions of relocations annually. These moves are primarily motivated by personal reasons, like a new marriage, or economic reasons, like a new job.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have relocated out of large urban areas — either to try to avoid contracting the virus or because the resulting economic fallout cost them their job. While population statistics are not yet available for 2020, plummeting rental prices in many of America’s largest population centers indicate significant population losses.

Virtually every part of America has suffered economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the cities on this list, where residents have been leaving in droves over the past decade, have been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 13.3% as of May 2020, though in many cities on this list, it is now much higher.

To determine the cities Americans are abandoning, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program. Cities were ranked based on the decline in population due to migration from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019. Supplemental data on income, educational attainment, and poverty came from the Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. Seasonally adjusted data on the May 2020 unemployment rate came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People moving in with a new partner or spouse, or those simply moving into a larger home, will often relocate within their area. Those who are moving for a job sometimes choose to move much farther. Many of the areas shedding residents in recent years have struggled to bounce back from the Great Recession of 2008, driving thousands of people to different parts of the country to try to improve their economic future.

Over the past decade, thousands of Americans have left the Midwest and Northeast to head south and west in search of warmer climates and better job opportunities. Many of these “Rust Belt” cities have lost thousands of blue collar jobs over the past few decades, as companies have outsourced production or gone out of business. People who work as packers, machine operators, and construction laborers are now more likely to be unemployed than those in almost any other field. These are the jobs with the worst job security.

It can be expensive for someone to uproot their whole lives and move somewhere new, even if it is for a lucrative job opportunity. In dozens of cities across the country it can cost on average more than $5,000 to relocate. These are the 35 most expensive cities to move to.

Click here to see the cities Americans are abandoning.

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