Thursday, August 27, 2015

Americans Are on the Move — Again

Americans are picking up and moving again as the recession fades, personal finances improve and housing markets recover. Counties in Nevada, Arizona, eastern California and Tennessee also saw some of the nation’s biggest growth in movers last year.

“People are finally starting to move again after years of hunkering down,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California. “Young people have kept graduating from school and moving into large cities, like Los Angeles and New York. But the normal out-movers have been suppressed. They are finally starting to break out.”

Historically, about 17 percent of families move in a given year, but the recession knocked that number down as low as 11 percent, said Kimball Brace, president of Virginia-based Election Data Services. After two straight years of improvement, the number of moving families has partially recovered to about 15 percent.

“The recession kept people at home. They couldn’t sell their home, they couldn’t find a job,” Brace said. “We’re starting to see bigger numbers. We’re not all the way back.”

By next year it should be clearer how the moves will affect political power, Brace said. But some Sun Belt states already are expected to gain congressional seats at the expense of Northern states where outbound moves are picking up.

Based on current population growth and loss trends, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Virginia would gain congressional seats in 2020, Election Data Services estimated this year. Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia would lose seats.

More from Pew Trusts

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