Study: Michigan Ranked Sixth Nationwide for Outbound Migration

by Scott McClallen


As Americans near their third year of COVID-19, Michigan ranked sixth nationwide for people leaving the state, according to United Van Lines 45th Annual National Movers Study.

The study derived by tracking customer migration patterns throughout the past year indicates Americans moved to lower-density areas and to be closer to their families.

Top inbound states:

  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Rhode Island

Top outbound states:

  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • Nebraska

United Van Lines also surveys motivations for interstate moves, and this year found 31.8% of Americans who moved aimed to be closer to family. Additionally, 32.5% of Americans moved for a new job or job transfer, a drop from 2015’s survey results of 60% in that category.

“This new data from United Van Lines is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” UCLA economist Michael A. Stoll said in a statement. “We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote.”

In Michigan, 33.56% of outbound movers cited another job as a primary reason for moving, followed by 27.85% to be closer to family, and then 26.94% of outbound movers cited retirement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 17 states lost population as nationwide population growth slowed to 0.1% in 2021. States including New York (-1.6%), Illinois (-0.9%), Hawaii (-0.7%), California (-0.7%) and the District of Columbia (-2.9%) drove population loss.

The exact reason for moving likely varies – to escape high taxes, strict COVID-19 rules that require vaccine passports to exercise at a gym or grab dinner in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Washington D.C., or to see a career change or see family more often.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Moving Day” by Fil.Al. CC BY 2.0.






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