moving family

Most American’s are not moving far from home.

More Americans moved last year than in the previous year, but most didn’t go far, a sign that foreclosures and housing costs are still keeping people close to home.  About 37.1 million Americans — 12.5% of the population — changed addresses from 2008 to 2009, the Census Bureau reported Monday.


The rate is a modest increase from 11.9% the previous year, when the rate was at its lowest since the agency began tracking the data in 1948.

“You should not put rose-colored glasses on,” says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution. “This is still a low point in mobility, which is the lifeblood of our labor market and is important for young people.”

In 2009, 67.3% of all movers stayed within the same county. The rates of moves to another county (17.2%) and across state lines (12.6%) remained flat.

“The main reason migration has ticked up (in 2009) is local movement,” Frey says. “Foreclosures have a lot to do with that. A lot of people have moved to renter status.”

According to his analysis, those most willing to make long-distance moves were the less educated and less skilled — those more willing to go anywhere for work.

The mobility rate jumped earlier this decade because the housing boom encouraged people who wouldn’t have normally moved to pack up and go, Frey says.

Another analyst says the new data show that college graduates and younger professionals are temporarily staying put during the housing crunch rather than seeking new careers elsewhere.

“This is the absolute worst time to lose our residential mobility,” says Richard Florida, a professor of U.S. urban theory at the University of Toronto. “It’s important for people to move to where the new opportunities are, because that is the cornerstone of our idea-driven economy.”

Most people stayed put, including older Americans nearing retirement.

“They’re still stuck in the mud,” Frey says. “Their 401(k)s are demolished. They can’t sell their house. They’re not going to be in Palm Beach any time soon.”

Other findings:

• The share of job-related moves jumped from 34% in the middle of the decade to 46% in 2009.

• Interstate moves for housing-related reasons dropped from 22% from 2004 to 2005 to 13% during the thick of the recession.

• The share of people who moved because they wanted an easier commute rose from 3.4% in 2005 to 5% last year.

• Americans seem less willing to move just to be near family. Family-related moves across state lines dropped from 30.4% in 2005 to 25.4% last year.

“People were willing to move to be close to family or for cheap housing,” Frey says. “Now that the housing market has completely dried up, jobs are taking over again.”

• Blacks moved the most (16.7%), followed by Hispanics (15.8%), Asians (13.8%) and whites (10.7%).

• The number of people moving here from another country fell to 1.1 million, the lowest since 1995.

 Via USA Today