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Fewer Americans Moving, Survey Shows

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Authored by Jon Mercer in Moving and Relocating
Published on 12-29-2008

Americans are known for moving around a lot; but in recent years the urge to relocate has been weakening. Fewer than twelve percent of Americans moved last year according to the monthly Current Population Survey. This is nearly a decline of a full percentage point compared to last year’s survey. The numbers have been declining steadily since the Census Bureau began counting people who move in 1940. In the 1950’s and 60’s the number of people who moved was near 20 percent.

Since older people are less likely to change residences, The Pew Research Center sites the aging population as one of the main reasons in the decline in people who move. Another reason why people are less likely to move is because of an increase in the number of households with two-career couples.

According to the Census survey, New York was in first place with the proportion of residents who were native to that state with 81 percent. Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio rounded out the top five in that category. In contrast, there were only 14 percent of Nevadans born in that state, and in Arizona only 28 percent were natives.

Of those interviewed in a recent telephone survey this October, 57 percent of 2,260 adults had never moved outside their home state, and 15 percent of those interviewed had lived in four or more states. The survey shows that of those who remained in their home states, the number one reason for staying was because of family ties. The number one given by those who moved was the promise of better paying jobs.

Only about 23 percent of all subjects interviewed by the Census Bureau survey said that they were born in a different place than they currently reside. Of those, 40 percent stated that they wanted to stay where they were; while about half said they would like to eventually return to their home state.

The Pew Survey found that 38 percent of those born in other countries but now live in America, describe their country of origin as their “home.” Among those who were born in other countries but had lived in the United States for twenty or more years, 70 percent considered America to be their home.

Interestingly, the state with the smallest share of residents who were actually born there is Alaska. Only 28 percent of those born in Alaska still live there. Other states with low numbers of native residents are Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota.

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