Nov 24, 2017

Americans aren't moving as much as they used to

There is more evidence that Americans move less frequently than they ever have, according to mobility rate data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Only 11% of Americans moved in 2016 compared to around 20% in the 1950s and 1960s.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: This decline is due to a number of factors including a rise in homeownership, an aging U.S. population, the 2007-2009 recession and higher school debt among young adults, according to analysis by the Brookings Institute.

  • Moving motives: Local, within-county moves make up three-fifths of total moves and reached an all-time low of 6.8% this year, while longer distance moves actually increased compared to the past two years. William Frey from Brookings points out that housing and life changes, like marriage and kids, often motivate in-county moves, while job opportunities tend to spur long distant moves.
  • Renters: Traditionally, the mobility rate has been much higher among renters than homeowners, but even renters have seen a great decline in the percentage of people who move location in a given year. This could be indicative of the growing affordability problem in the housing market.
  • Millennials: The data showed that millennials' local mobility has remained relatively low at around 12% for older millennials, but the percentage of millennials making long-distance moves is rising, now at 3.3% — the highest rate in more than a decade.
Go deeper