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Moving firm study reveals people going south, west

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | 4:26 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — If migration trends tracked by the nation's largest moving company are any indication, the South and West are getting more crowded and people are moving away from parts of the Northeast and Midwest.

But the study by suburban St. Louis-based United Van Lines also indicates those trends that have been around for many years might be slowly changing.

United Van Lines has been tracking moving trends since 1977. Its study released to The Associated Press on Wednesday looked at all moves that involved either going to or leaving a state or the District of Columbia.

The study over the years has accurately reflected migration trends in the U.S., said Carl Walter, vice president of United Van Lines. The data is so accurate that real estate firms, financial institutions and others use United's data for planning and analysis, he said.

For 2011, United tracked 113,916 interstate moves from Jan. 1 through Dec. 9. For the fourth year in a row, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of inbound moves, 62.2 percent.

Some top inbound states were in the South: North Carolina (60.6 percent of moves were inbound), Arkansas (55.4 percent), South Carolina and Texas (both 55 percent). Other top inbound states were in the West: Oregon (60.6 percent) and Nevada (55.6 percent).

But the trend of migration to the West seems to be slowing because several states with high inbound numbers during the past decade are now relatively stable, Walter said.

Illinois and New Jersey tied for the largest outbound migration, with 60.5 percent of moves involving those states heading out.

The study looks only at numbers of moves and does not seek to determine why people are moving to or away from any particular states, Walter said.

Several states in the Northeast saw more people moving out than in — New York (58.1 percent), New Hampshire (56.7 percent), Rhode Island (56.5 percent), Connecticut (55.2 percent) and Maine (55.1 percent) were all among the top 10 for outbound moves. Michigan (58.1 percent) was fourth for outbound moves after being third last year and first each year from 2006 through 2009.

Walter said the study indicates the long trend of people moving away from states in the northern Midwest seems to be turning around.

"For more than 10 years, states bordering Lake Michigan have experienced high outbound migration in large numbers," he said. "While Michigan and Illinois still appear on the list, migration out of the region has slowed considerably."

Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania all had high outbound moves in 2010, but all were relatively balanced this year.

Not all of the southern states were proving to be destinations. West Virginia (56.2 percent) and Kentucky (55.7 percent) had high outbound moves in 2011.


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