Americans are moving again, but not far

12/10/2012 10:55 PM

12/20/2012 4:20 PM

The pace of American mobility increased slightly in 2012, but most movers didn't go very far.

The rate of people moving inched up from a record low of 11.6 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012 with about 36.5 million people moving to a new residence, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Monday.

Reflecting the continued economic slowdown, the big majority of movers (64.4 percent) stayed within the same county, according to the report, which is titled Geographical Mobility: 2012. Even the 11.8 million people who moved to another county didn't venture far, with 40 percent moving less than 50 miles.

"What you are seeing is demographic data that reflects economic realities. People don't move when they think the economy is moving slowly," said Steve Murdock, a Rice University professor and former Census Bureau director.

Once again, Texas was the leading destination in 2011 with about 515,000 people coming to the Lone Star State. Nearly 405,000 people left, for a net gain of about 110,000, according to a separate state-to-state migration report from the 2011 American Community Survey released Monday.

In 2010, Texas also led all states with a net gain of about 75,000, an anemic increase compared with the average of about 200,000 a year from 2000 to 2010.

But most of that big jump happened before the recession from 2007 to 2009, Murdock noted.

In 2011, the give and take between California and Texas continued to be among the most common state-to-state moves with 58,992 heading east and 37,087 going west, giving the Lone Star State a net increase of 21,905.

The next biggest net gains to Texas were from New York (17,004), Florida (10,245) and North Carolina (6,335).

The biggest net losses from Texas were to Oklahoma (12,293), Louisiana (4,779) and Colorado (3,264).

Nationally, the biggest state-to-state shift (59,288) was from New York to Florida. Four routes from California -- Arizona, Nevada and Washington -- were also in the top 10. Overall, California had a net loss of about 129,000, almost identical to 2010.

After Texas, Florida had the largest number of out-of-state movers (498,597) followed by California (468,428), New York (282,209) and Georgia (271,077).

Nationally, of the 36.5 million moves, 18 million were housing-related, 10.7 million were family-related and only about 7 million were job-related, according to the 2012 mobility report.

It used to be a rule of thumb among demographers that one in five people, or 20 percent, would move every year, Murdock said. But that has changed since the recession.

"Now it's about one in eight. Immigration and migration are very sensitive to economic change. People get gun shy when the economy slows down. They stay put," he said.

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981

Join the Discussion

Fort Worth Star-Telegram is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQ | Terms of Service