Warning: What follows is kind of a wonky post, especially for the holiday week.
Via the New York Times comes a report that Americans are moving less than at any other time since the Census Bureau began tracking the figure:
The monthly Current Population Survey found that fewer than 12 percent of Americans moved since 2007, a decline of nearly a full percentage point compared with the year before. In the 1950s and ’60s, the number of movers hovered near 20 percent.
The number has been declining steadily, and 12 percent is the lowest rate since the Census Bureau began counting people who move in 1940.
An analysis by the Pew Research Center attributes the decline to a number of factors, including the aging of the population (older people are less likely to change residences) and an increase in two-career couples.
Mobility looked much different for more at-risk segments of the population, however. Movers included:
- 25% of persons living in poverty
- 23% of unemployed persons
- 20% of children age 1 to 4
- 20% of non-citizens
- 30% of renters
- roughly 25% of persons separated from a spouse
- Roughly 16% of Blacks and Hispanics moved, compared to less than 12% of non-Hispanic whites
Interestingly, educational attainment had little impact, with those earning high school diplomas or less actually moving slightly less often than others.
So why did people move? For people that moved but stayed in the same county, 20% wanted a new or better home, 13% cited an “other family reason”, 12% wanted to establish their own household (e.g. children moving out of parent’s household), and 10% desired cheaper housing. The corresponding rates for persons in poverty were similar: 18% new/better home, 15% family, 15% establish household, and 14% sought cheaper housing.
My colleagues and I conducted a similar survey at our Brightwaters community. We were unsatisfied with the results because it didn’t really give us a good feel for the objective causes of people’s moves: they fell behind on rent, wanted to leave an abusive relationship, had a child and needed more space, etc. Lots of people have reasons they’d like to move, which is what they’ll tell surveyers when asked why they did move. But there’s usually an event that triggers a move. It’d be nice if the Census Bureau collected that sort of information.