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Overall state-to-state migration in the U.S. decreased after Covid hit. But new research shows the states that saw notable upticks with inbound and outbound movers.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise of remote work and other lifestyle shifts fostered new opportunities and reasons for Americans to move. But a recent report revealed that surprisingly few people decided to migrate, and of those who did, many were moving either to or from California, Florida and Texas.
The report, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, compared migration patterns in 2018 and 2019 to those in 2020 and 2021, after the pandemic’s onset. Researchers found that the overall number of state-to-state moves decreased 15.1% after the pandemic began, but there was still plenty of movement among some states.
Top Inbound States
Of the five states that had the highest rates of pre-pandemic "inbound" moves—Florida, Texas, California, Washington and North Carolina—all but California saw more people moving in than leaving, and continued to do so after the pandemic’s start, according to the report. In fact, Florida, Texas and North Carolina all saw an increase in inbound movers after the pandemic began.
In contrast, Washington’s inbound rates trended downward, dropping from 56.3% pre-pandemic to 51.4% in 2020-2021.
Top Outbound States
Texas, California and Florida also ranked among the top five states with the highest rates of pre-pandemic "outbound" moves, joined by Virginia and Illinois.
California and Illinois were majority outbound states before the pandemic, and that trend only increased after the health crisis began. California’s share of outbound moves rose from 56.2% to 59.4%, with Texas, Washington, Florida and Virginia being the top destinations. Illinois’s share rose less dramatically, from 64.7% to 66.4%. California, Florida, Texas and Arizona were the most popular outbound choices.
While still being among the top outbound states, Texas and Florida were trending in the opposite direction. Florida’s shares dropped from 42.8% to 38.3% and Texas from 47.1% to 45.5%.
Virginia saw the least amount of change and maintained a roughly even inbound-outbound ratio from 2018 to 2021.
The report was produced using data from United Van Lines, a moving company that tracks annual migration patterns in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. The researchers also looked at data from the U.S. Postal Service collected in the early months of the pandemic, which showed a sharp increase in requests for a temporary address change. That spike “strongly implies” that not all the moves are necessarily permanent.
Details about what is driving these migration trends remain to be studied, the report said, and the full impact of Covid-19 on those patterns is still unknown.
“That won’t be determined until the worst of the pandemic is much further behind us,” the report said.
For more information from this report click here.
Molly Bolan is an assistant editor for Route Fifty.
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