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Mobility in America Part 3 | Where People Are Moving

Despite the dramatic decline in the percent of Americans moving and changing residences over the last 60+ years, the patterns of mobility have shifted much less than might be expected. Once a country on the move, mobility reached a historical low from 2015 to 2016 with only 11.2 percent of the population moving to a different home or apartment. This compares to a 1948 peak of 20.3 percent. The third and final factoid series on Mobility in America looks at where people are moving. Are more movers simply relocating to a nearby apartment or home? Is there migration into the cities from the suburbs? Are some more people moving to sunshine states? The first factoid in this series focuses on mobility by year and the how far movers have relocated.

While the percent of Americans moving has changed overtime, how far away they tend to move has not. Looking at the last 28 years, in 1987, 17.8 percent of the population moved compared the 11.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. Since that time, a slightly higher percentage of movers are moving to a different county within the same state – an increase from 18.3 percent (1987) to 21.3 percent (2016). Meanwhile, while fewer movers are relocating to a different state – down from 16.7 percent to 13.6 percent.

Both long distance and shorter nearby moves have fallen by similar rates over the past 60+ years. Between 2015 and 2016, 61.6 percent of all movers relocated within the same county compared to 67 percent in 1948. Of the total population, just 6.9 percent of Americans made shorter moves last year within the same county, down from 13.6 percent in 1948. Different county and out of state moves dropped to just 3.9 percent of the total population in 2016.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Geographical Mobility Rates, by Type of Movement 1948-2016

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FastFact: American Mobility Patterns Show Little Change
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