Americans are moving away from states with high unemployment—and, for the first time, they’re not heading West, Atlas Van Lines reports.
The company’s “Migration Patterns” study has tracked the nation’s moves since 1993, and the 2009 report shows Americans bucking some trends.
“The results this year are surprising, because many states that have for years been outbound, inbound, or balanced have changed,” said Glen Dunkerson, chairman and CEO of Atlas World Group.
Residents of Rust Belt states and the Midwest continue to relocate in large numbers, as steel and manufacturing industry jobs decline. However, the westward push toward California, Nevada and Oregon has declined, due to heavy job losses in these states.
The Southwest pocket—Texas, New Mexico and, for the first time in five years, Oklahoma—continues to attract residents. Also popular are the Northeast and Southeast states.
Washington D.C. had the highest percentage of inbound traffic for the fourth year in a row, and Connecticut had the highest percentage of outbound traffic. New Jersey and South Dakota narrowly follow Connecticut to round out the top three outbound states.
Overall, household moves industry-wide cooled with the economy in 2009, according to the study. Atlas' total interstate and cross-border moves were down nearly 16 percent from 2008—to 71,301 households from 84,447 households.
However, a higher-than-average jump in relocation activity during the summer months may be a sign that the moving market is recovering.
“Atlas’ migration study takes the pulse of our nation—it reflects the economic climate and is a guide to the general migration patterns throughout the country,” said Dunkerson.
The study reports these trends:
Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma are popular destinations. However, neighboring Colorado—historically an inbound state—became balanced in its number of moves, meaning roughly equivalent numbers of people moving in and out.
Northeast and Southeast Lure
The South Atlantic states of Virginia, North Carolina and Washington D.C. are popular destinations, with Washington D.C. again topping the percentage of inbound traffic. For the first time in four years, Maryland joins the Southeast pocket of states as inbound. In the Northeast, Vermont and New Hampshire have surfaced as popular destinations.
Rust Belt Woes
Outbound moves from the Rust Belt states continue but, for the first time in 10 years, Illinois joins neighbors Indiana, Michigan and Ohio as outbound. Indiana has been an outbound state for more than a decade, while Michigan ranks in the top four outbound states.
Down and Out in the Dakotas
Residents are leaving North and South Dakota—two states that have been inbound or balanced for more than a decade. Because unemployment rates are low in both states, the cause of the shift is unknown.
View detail of 2009 Migration Patterns. More information is available at www.atlasworldgroup.com/migration.