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Moving in the United States Economic Explanations


As mentioned in the previous article, Moving in the United States: Demographics and Data, younger adults are more likely to move than older adults. By examining the data, we can also draw some likely conclusions as to why certain demographics are moving more than others. Relocation for education and job purposes are two reasons.

For example, nearly 21 million undergraduate students are enrolled in college, and of the 35 million movers, 6 million are college-aged adults between 18 and 24 years old. Besides college students, an additional 7 million people move for job related reasons.

However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, those with an income of $10,000 or less are also more likely to migrate. These individuals typically move from northeastern areas of the United States to more southern regions. Based on this data, and the fact that living in the northeast is more expensive than living in the south, one could conclude that this demographic is moving in search of economic prosperity.

Interestingly, those in the armed forces are also more likely to move south. When considering that Texas, Florida, and Virginia have more military bases individually than many western states combined (with the exception of California), this data proves less surprising. Members of the armed forces, one could conclude, are moving to southern states in order to be stationed at one of the numerous military installations located throughout these regions. Each year, approximately 650 thousand military personnel and their families transfer to new duty stations throughout the world.

Moving: A Declining Trend

Despite data showing that more than 35 million people moved in 2016, over the course of the last several decades, the rate of Americans moving each year has declined. When census relocation data was first collected in 1984, about 1 in 5 Americans were relocating each year. In 2014, however, the rate dropped to 1 in 9.

During the post-recession period, young adults in their 20s moved the least. In fact, immediately following the recession, the rate of moving for adults between 18 and 34 years old dropped by 1.4 percentage points, in contrast to older demographics that remained somewhat stable.

Women in the 18 to 24 age range were 4% more likely to move than males. Yet, those who were already employed were least likely to move — probably out of fear of losing the stability of their jobs. Such moving trends indicate that the economic climate is one of the most influential factors in terms of relocation.

Transportation and Society

With transport such as planes becoming increasingly more accessible and affordable, more and more young people are opting to move abroad, with 236,000 25 to 29 year olds choosing to move overseas in 2016. Nevertheless, considering the ever increasing cost of housing, and doubts surrounding politics and the economy, it is unsurprising that both younger and older Americans are opting to move less than in previous years. Fear and uncertainty are driving factors in decision making. They will continue to affect the number of Americans moving each year, at least in the foreseeable future.

In Sum

The data discussed above gives us a detailed insight into the moving mindset of the American population. Rate of relocation is driven by employment opportunities, security, and economic stability. As our economy, and the financial assets and cost of living associated with it change, so will the rate of moving in the United States.


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