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Abandoning the Northeast

Jan. 7, 2015
One thing can be said for truckers about studies regarding where folks are moving to – and away from – in the U.S.; it’ll help tell you where future freight demand will come from.

In the case of United Van Lines' 38th Annual National Movers Study, however, which tracked customer migration patterns state-to-state during the course of 2014, there’s one area of the country where you freight demand might be starting on a downward slope – that would in the Northeastern U.S.

According to United’s data, the Northeast is experiencing a moving deficit with New Jersey (65% outbound), New York (64%) and Connecticut (57%) topping the list of outbound states for the third consecutive year.

[FYI: United considers any state with over 55% either inbound or outbound volume to be experiencing a “high” level of moving activity.]

In a separate survey of its customers, United found the Northeast region also had the highest number of people leaving for retirement, with more than one in four respondents indicating retirement as the reason for relocation.

On the plus side, though, Oregon took top honors as the number one destination state for 2014, with 66% of moves to and from the state being inbound — nearly 5% increase of inbound moves compared to 2013, United said.

Arriving at No. 2 on the list is South Carolina (61% inbound), followed closely in third place by its northern neighbor, North Carolina (61%).

The District of Columbia, which held the top spot on the inbound list from 2008 to 2012 and ranked fourth last year, fell to No. 7 this year with 57% inbound moves.

United noted that new additions to the 2014 top inbound list include Vermont (59%), Oklahoma (57%) and Idaho (56%). Interestingly, the Mountain West had the highest number of retirees moving to the region, with nearly one in three individuals surveyed saying they relocated there to retire.

"With economic stability growing nationally, the current migration patterns reflect longer-term trends of movement to the southern and western states, especially to those where housing costs are relatively lower, climates are more temperate and job growth has been at or above the national average, among other factors," noted Michael Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the department of public policy at the University of California-Los Angeles, in United’s report.

"Unique amenities such as outdoor recreation, arts and entertainment activities, and green space protection likely continue to propel Oregon to the top of the list for the second straight year," he added.

United noted, too, that it’s tracked migration patterns annually on a state-by-state basis since 1977. For 2014, the study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.

Back to this year’s report; for 2014, United determined that the top 10 inbound states were (in order):

  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • District of Columbia
  • Oklahoma
  • Idaho

The Western U.S. is represented on the high-inbound list by Oregon (66%) and Nevada (57%).

Of moves to Oregon, a new job (38%) and retirement (29%) led the reasons for most inbound moves. Nevada remained on the high inbound list for the fourth consecutive year. 

In terms of the top 10 outbound states for 2014, they were:

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • North Dakota
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Kansas
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • Connecticut

In addition to the Northeast, Illinois (63%) held steady at the No. 3 spot, ranking in the top five for the last six years.

New additions to the 2014 top outbound list include North Dakota (61%), Ohio (59%) and Kansas (58%).

Then there are several states that gained approximately the same number of residents as those that left, United said – ones it calls “balanced states.”

Traffic in states including Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Wyoming leveled this year compared to 2013 migration data. Tennessee appeared on the balanced list for the second consecutive year.

All in all, United’s research provides some interesting data to consider where future freight demand might come from in the U.S., especially since folks seem to be fleeing the Northeast in rapidly growing numbers.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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