Every year, United Van Lines generates a press release about their annual migration study. Its a fun read, but hardly scientific. The report measures inbound and outbound traffic in each state. In other words, how many of their clients are moving into or out of a particular state. They infer validity of their statistics by saying:

As the nation’s largest mover, United holds more than 30 percent of the market, which is nearly double the market share of the second largest carrier.

However, for this report to be truly valid, I think we need to understand the demographics of their client base so we better understand why people are doing what they are doing. When a press release says something like has been shown to accurately reflect without proof, then I am always wary and usually with good reason.

As I said before, its still fun to look at, so lets throw caution to the wind and go with it.

United Van Lines 2006 Migration Study

Raw stats for study [pdf]

The parameters are:

  • “high inbound” (55% or more of moves going into a state)
  • “high outbound” (55% or more of moves coming out of a state)
  • “balanced” (50-54% inbound or outbound)

No real surprises, in terms of what we would expect to see. Midwest is losing people and parts of the west/southwest/south regions are gaining people.

(Note: to United Van Lines: Michigan is considered Midwest, not Central Northeast and New York is considered Mid-Atlantic, not Central Northeast).

Outbound leaders
The midwest is struggling with weakening economic conditions from serious problems with the auto industry.

  • Michigan leads the pack with 66% outbound traffic.
  • New York is second with 59.5% outbound traffic. Upstate New York is still struggling economically and largely missed the housing boom like the New York City region did.

Inbound leaders
* North Carolina was the inbound leader at 64%
* Oregon (I have been told that its safest state to live in case of a nuclear war. hint: prevailng winds) at 62.5%.

6 Responses to “An Economic Migration Study (For The Birds?)”

  1. Chris says:

    I think you mean N.C. was the leader with 64% inbound.

  2. Jonathan J. Miller says:

    Oops sorry – yes – just fixed it.

  3. skep-tic says:

    it’s not just the areas that are struggling economically that are seeing outmigration. check out the latest census data– a lot of migration from the northeast is being driven by the cost of living

  4. Jonathan J. Miller says:

    Good point – yes in search of lower costs in the south and southwest. Housing prices are higher in the west and there is not a net outmigration as far as I know so I am not sure if affordability is the main reason for the phenom in the northeast. The out migration in the NE is expected to be offset by an influx of immigration patterns going forward over the next ten years per the Harvard’s center for joint studies.

  5. John K says:

    For once, I’m glad to be white.

    Er, wait, did that come out wrong?

  6. skep-tic says:

    actually, per census data, Cali is in the top 5 lowest states for population gain (the others all being in the northeast except for lousiana).

    as for immigration, I’ve read conflicting data on this point. the trend seems to be that immigrants are increasingly bypassing traditional entry points such as NYC in favor of less traditional spots (again in the south and west, e.g., houston).

    seems that word may have gotten out around the world re: the superior growth opportunities in these regions