Americans are among the most itinerant people on Earth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data from 2007, the average person in the United States changes residences more than 11 times in their lifetime. Europeans only move four times in their lifetime, according to a RE/MAX Europe survey.
We’ve been on the move since the first Europeans arrived here 400 years ago. The belief in Manifest Destiny that the nation was destined to reach from the Atlantic to the Pacific has fired Americans’ imagination and raised expectations for a better life. (This is the top city Americans are moving to.)
To find the year most Americans moved since 2000, 24/7 Wall St. used U.S. Census Bureau’s Historical Geographic Mobility/Migration data. All data is from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, which is mostly conducted in March. We excluded people who migrated to the U.S. from abroad. The population universe is one year and older. (Asterixis note years survey methodologies have changed.)
Americans move for several reasons, according to United Van Lines’ 45th Annual National Movers Study: job transfers, to be closer to family, and retirement. The pandemic has added the desire for more space to the top reasons to move.
Because the U.S. is vast and speaks one language in most of the nation, conditions are favorable for people to move. The pandemic has not changed the longer-term moving patterns of Americans. Florida and South Carolina are drawing people because of warm weather and a lower cost of living, and more people have discovered the wide open spaces of Idaho. (This is the state the most people are moving to.)
Americans have been moving less often in recent years for a variety of reasons. The workforce is aging, and older workers are less inclined to move, according to a story in the Washington Post. Because there are more two-income households, that makes it more difficult to reconcile the logistics of moving. A changing work culture includes more telecommuting, allowing people to stay put.
The percentage of the population on the move has been declining since 2010-2011. Even though many stories have been written about Americans fleeing certain urban areas since the onset of COVID-19, fewer Americans have moved over the last few years, according to census data.
Other events in recent years have influenced Americans’ decision about moving. The number of Americans moving had risen each year until 2007-2008, when the Great Recession hit the U.S. That year, 34,022,000 Americans, or 11.5%, moved, the 11th lowest percentage since 2000. Americans got back on the road in higher numbers in the following two years, but the number of moves has been in decline since then.
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