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Families Fleeing New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Study Finds

What would compel you to move to a different state? A better job? Family? Lower taxes? Better weather? A new study conducted by United Van Lines reveals that those are the main reasons that prompted many Americans to pack up and move across state lines. The study also provides data about which states people are fleeing and to which states people are moving.

Unsurprisingly, New Jersey tops the list of states from which people are moving. According to the study, 66.8 percent of the moves in New Jersey were by people moving to a different state. Surprisingly, to me at least, Vermont is at the top of the other list. 72.6 percent of moves in Vermont are from people moving from another state.

The study is interesting and informative, and United Van Lines is in a unique position to collect and analyze the data. According to Eily Cummings, who serves as United Van Lines' director of corporate communication, "As the nation’s largest household goods mover, our study allows us to identify the most and least popular states for residential relocation throughout the country, year after year. These findings accurately reflect not only where Americans are moving to and from, but also the reasons why."

The study claims that:

Since 1977, United Van Lines has annually tracked migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. The 2018 study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks states based off the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state. United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55 percent or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55 percent or more moves were coming out of a state or “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.

One of the things that stuck out to me is that many of the top ten states for outbound moves are known for their high state income tax (New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, and Massachusetts). That doesn't necessarily mean that people are moving into states based on taxes, though. Some are, but not all. Vermont has a high state income tax, after all.

The study concludes that the reason why some Southern states are seeing an influx of new residents is because of the job market. While United Van Lines didn't say this, I imagine that low taxes combined with being a "right to work" state is what helps create the employer-friendly job market of South Carolina, which sits at #6 on the top inbound list. Companies create jobs. People move to where there is work.

Looking at United Van Lines study, economist and professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, Michael Stoll says:

The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates. Unlike a few decades ago, retirees are leaving California, instead choosing other states in the Pacific West and Mountain West. We’re also seeing young professionals migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington, D.C. and Seattle.

City and community managers would do well to study the United Van Lines' data to help them make decisions that are best for the long-term health of their community. Job growth, lower costs of living, and lower taxes don't happen by accident.