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Moving up, moving on, moving out – What’s the story?

Mon May 23 2011
David Ihrke, Survey Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau
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Every year, millions of people pack up and move from one residence to another. This trend has long been an important aspect of American life, affecting both people and geographic areas. In 2010, more than one in 10 U.S. residents (1 year and older) moved within the previous year.

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Among the interesting details that came out of the 2010 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement — seven in 10 of those people moved within the same county, nearly two in 10 moved from a different county within the same state, and about one in 10 moved to a different state.

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This information is from Geographical Mobility: 2010, the latest in a series of tables that describe the movement of people in the United States. The tables show the mover rate is different for people who are married versus people who are single. Another factor we can examine is how the mover rate varies by whether the housing unit is owned or rented.

Moving can create economic opportunity or residential satisfaction. In fact, housing reasons topped the list of reasons why people moved at nearly 44 percent. Among people who said that housing-related reasons motivated them to move, the most common reason cited was the desire to live in a new or better home or apartment. For those who said they moved for employment-related reasons, a new job or job transfer was the most common reason.

On a broader level, geographic mobility data are used by federal, state and local governments to understand population growth and decline in order to plan for needed services and facilities, such as schools and hospitals. These same figures are also important to private industry, which can use these figures to determine where to expand and locate businesses and services.

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Year-to-year, these population shifts tell us important things about how our nation is changing in important ways. This year, as we roll out population figures from the 2010 Census*, we see the impact of mobility on housing markets, economic growth, demand for services and even congressional representation.

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One thing certainly remains constant; millions of Americans will be on the move over the course of the next year.

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*Geographic mobility/migration was not asked in the 2010 Census.

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