Northwest and Southeast Atlantic Regions Losing Appeal; Rest of Country Remains Stable -- All According to Latest U.S. Migration Data

February 1, 1999

EVANSVILLE, (Ind.) -- More Americans are referring to California as "home sweet home." Continuing on a trend that began just two years ago, more people are moving into California than are moving out. An outbound state from 1991 to 1996, the Golden State has been making a slow but steady recovery.

According to the latest migration data released today by Atlas Van Lines, the nation's third-largest carrier of household goods, California had 15 percent more inbound shipments than outbound shipments during 1998. That's a 9 percent increase in inbound shipments over 1997 and a 30 percent increase in inbound traffic over 1996 (the first year California was not considered an outbound state).

Atlas Van Lines migration data reveals inbound and outbound traffic trends for every state in the U.S. The data tracks traffic flow into and out of regions throughout North America. The information is based on 101,010 household goods shipments for 1998.

While California is experiencing a boon of in-migration activity, migration data shows that out-migration patterns are most evident in portions of the Pacific Northwest, Northwest Central, Southeast, and Midwest regions.

Oregon, which has been an inbound state since 1994, has - for the first time in four years - watched nearly as many people leave the state as arrive. While there are still more inbound shipments than outbound shipments, the gap is narrowing. During 1998, 45 percent of shipments were outbound while 55 percent were inbound. The previous year (1997), only 30 percent of shipments were outbound while 61 percent were inbound. In just one year, Oregon has witnessed a 45 percent increase in the number of shipments leaving the state. Idaho was the only other inbound destination within the Northwest region, with the growth in inbound shipments doubling from 1997 to 1998.

Traffic patterns throughout most of the Midwest remained unchanged. Michigan, however, experienced a big enough decline in inbound shipments to go from a balanced state to an outbound state. There were 33 percent more outbound than inbound shipments during 1998. That's a 23 percent increase over 1997. Wisconsin (34 percent more outbound than inbound shipments) and Indiana (68 percent more outbound than inbound shipments) continue to see a decline in people moving into their respective states.

While there are pockets of notable swings in migration patterns, the data seems to indicate stability across much of the country.

"We are seeing migration patterns that are consistent with last years' results because business remains good," says Steve Mumma, Atlas Van Lines senior vice president, marketing and public relations. "Corporations move people to areas experiencing healthier economies. Since the economy has been fairly stable throughout the country, we aren't seeing a major exodus like we saw during the early '90s when people left states like California and New York in droves. There's almost a balancing effect with respect to relocations. More states than ever before are seeing an equal number of outbound and inbound shipments. With a few exceptions, it appears that everyone is benefiting from the country's strong financial state."

That balancing effect may be most evident in the Southeast. The migration picture remains fairly positive although there has been a slight decline in overall traffic headed into the region. Once viewed as fertile soil for economic growth, neighboring states are offering increased competition. Both North Carolina and South Carolina, inbound destinations during 1997, saw an increase in outbound shipments during 1998. North Carolina's ratio of inbound to outbound shipments during '98 was 55 percent to 45 percent. Just four years ago, that ratio was 63 percent to 37 percent. South Carolina is experiencing a similar effect, with a 24 percent decrease in inbound traffic over 1997. Virginia is the only state in the Southeast to remain an inbound destination.

The Atlas traffic flow data does not include the number of people relocating by do-it-yourself means. However, it serves as an indicator of individual and corporate inclination to relocate to stronger economic areas. The numbers in the Atlas chart also account for only those household goods shipments that moved from one state to another, or interstate moves.

The map shows how many households Atlas moved in and out of each state during 1998. The top number indicates outgoing shipments, and the bottom number represents incoming shipments. States that are lightly shaded show areas where inbound and outbound moves were nearly equal. The map is available by calling Jim Huth, Atlas Van Lines director of corporate communications, at 812-421-7183. Results will also be posted on the Atlas Web site:

With world headquarters in Evansville, Ind., Atlas Van Lines is a major transporter of household goods and special products through some 600 agents across the U.S. and Canada, and more than 800 worldwide.