EVANSVILLE, Ind. — In the wake of our country's economic downturn, people are moving away from states with high unemployment, according to the 2009 Atlas Van Lines Migration Patterns study. Atlas' annual study has tracked the nation's moves since 1993.
Residents of Rust Belt states continue to relocate in large numbers, as steel and manufacturing industry jobs decline. And while historically the nation has moved westward, heavy job losses, particularly in construction, manufacturing and tourism in California, Nevada and Oregon, have made these states less popular destinations than in years past.
Migration patterns also show that the Southwest pocket – Texas, New Mexico, and for the first time in five years, Oklahoma – continues to attract residents. Also popular are the Northeast and Southeast states. Washington D.C. had the highest percentage of inbound traffic for the fourth year in a row, and Connecticut had the highest percentage of outbound traffic. New Jersey and South Dakota narrowly follow Connecticut to round out the top three outbound states.
As the economy cooled in 2009, so did household moves industry-wide, according to the study. Atlas' total interstate and cross-border moves were down nearly 16 percent from 2008, when Atlas moved 84,447 households. The total for 2009 was 71,474. However, a higher-than-average jump in relocation activity during the summer months may be a sign that the moving market is recovering.
"Atlas' migration study takes the pulse of our nation – it reflects the economic climate and is a guide to the general migration patterns throughout the country," said Glen Dunkerson, chairman and CEO of Atlas World Group. "The results this year are surprising, because many states that have for years been outbound, inbound, or balanced have changed."
Here's a closer look at relocation patterns in 2009 as identified in the Atlas study:
Texas, New Mexico, and for the first time in five years, Oklahoma, are popular destinations. However, neighboring Colorado, which has historically been an inbound state, became balanced in its number of moves, meaning the numbers of people moving in and out were about equal.
Northeast and Southeast Lure
The South Atlantic states of Virginia, North Carolina and Washington D.C. are popular destinations, with Washington D.C. showing the nation's highest percentage of inbound traffic for the fourth year in a row. For the first time in four years, Maryland joins the Southeast pocket of states as inbound.
In the Northeast, Vermont and New Hampshire have surfaced as popular destinations.
Rust Belt Woes
Outbound moves from the Rust Belt states continue, but for the first time in 10 years, Illinois joins neighbors Indiana, Michigan and Ohio as outbound. Indiana has been an outbound state for more than a decade while Michigan ranks in the top four outbound states.
Down and Out in the Dakotas
Residents are leaving North and South Dakota, an unusual trend because both states have historically been inbound or balanced for more than a decade. Because unemployment rates are low in both states, what's causing the shift is unknown.
For full results of the migration survey and to view a map and annual histories for each state, visit www.atlasworldgroup.com/migration.
Each state/province has a threshold value, which is the total number of shipments multiplied by 0.55 (for example, in a state with 100 moves, at least 55 of them would have to be outgoing to classify the state as outbound). A state/province is considered:
All other states are classified as balanced. Shipments noted for Canada are cross-border-to the United States or from the United States (not inter-provincial).
Atlas Van Lines is the largest subsidiary of Atlas World Group, an Evansville, Ind.-based company that posted revenues of $908 million in 2008. Atlas World Group companies employ nearly 700 people throughout North America. More than 500 Atlas interstate agents in the United States and Canada specialize in corporate employee relocation and in the transportation of high-value items such as electronics, fine art and new fixtures and furniture. Visit www.atlasworldgroup.com for more information on the company and Atlas agents.