Americans Move at Lowest Rate since World War II

By Mike Colpitts

Saddled with a weak economy and sluggish housing market Americans moved across state lines at the lowest rate since World War II in 2010, according to the Brookings Institution. Only 1.4% moved to a new state during the year.

Post World War II housing in California

Demographer William Frey said “tepid gains in employment and the rise in home foreclosures over the last couple of years” led to the historically low levels. The job market is partially to blame as people have trouble finding new work or go without jobs all together. The foreclosure crisis has also transformed the housing market in many areas of the U.S. into bargain only markets with few exceptions.

“The stall has affected college graduates and young adults, groups usually among the most mobile and coveted,” said Frey. “Between 2008 and 2010, the annual interstate migration of this group fell to 2.1%, well below the levels of 3% and above earlier this decade and in the 1990s.”

Lower home prices in most of the country have made it more difficult for many homeowners to sell their homes to move to another state. For those that made home purchases at the height of the market, some are holding on to their homes in hopes that the local market recovers to the point where they are able to sell just to break even. An increasing number are also walking away from their homes due to being over-burdened by mortgages that either got too expensive to afford or because they have lost confidence in home prices ever achieving the height they were at again in their life times.

moving day

Top migration destinations for young adults were interior sections of the West, including Riverside, California in the Inland Empire, one of the nation’s foreclosure epicenters, which is still suffering through one of the worst real estate crashes in the country.

Urban centers like Houston, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina acted like magnets for young adults, but after the bubble burst and many lost their jobs these metro areas were especially hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. Few areas of the nation held up as well as Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado in the long lasting fall out after the bust.

However, Brookings research shows that gains for many popular metros attracting younger adults for their vibrant communities, night-life and upwardly mobile lifestyles are not as high as many older areas in the Northern region and coastal communities of the nation.