Why Are Fewer Americans Moving?

If you’ve seen fewer moving trucks heading down the road, you’re not alone.

The United States Census Bureau has released data on how many Americans have moved between 2012 and 2013, and those statistics show that the year-over-year moving rate has declined.

The nation’s mover rate sits at 11.7 percent, which is down from the 12 percent reported toward the end of 2012. About 35.9 million Americans moved have moved in the past year, down ever so slightly from the 36.5 million who moved in the prior year.

These results might seem a bit surprising, since the economy is continuing to make a steady recovery from the recent recession. But if we take a closer look at the numbers, they make a bit more sense.

Foreclosure Sign

Fewer people are being forced out of homes by foreclosures, which has helped drop the moving rate.
(Image courtesy: Respres/Wikimedia Commons)

The Foreclosure Nightmare is Over

Housing-related factors drove the decision to move for nearly half (48 percent) of all Americans who decided to uproot themselves in the past year. However, there are fewer housing-related factors out there driving moves than there have been in recent years.

In particular, the recession helped uproot a fair amount of Americans for housing-related reasons. When the housing bubble burst, many homeowners were left in a precarious financial situation. Foreclosures followed — evicting thousands of people, and their tenants, from homes that weren’t paid for.

With the housing market leveling off and the economy recovering, there are fewer bank seizures, foreclosures and evictions driving people towards a new home. Since the housing-related factors driving moves are more lifestyle-based than bank-driven, there are fewer Americans on the move.

For Sale Sign

There are fewer of these signs in front of homes these days.
(Image courtesy: Prokopenya Viktor/Wikimedia Commons)

There Are Fewer “For Sale” Signs

Now that the remnants of the burst housing bubble have been mostly cleaned up and swept away, there is a decided sellers market out there. That means there is more demand for homes than there are homes on the market.

There are many factors contributing to the current market conditions. Selling a home is a complicated and stressful task that involves several parties. Fewer people are willing to embark on this journey while the economy is still working to regain its footing. The prospect of increased home valuations in the future is also encouraging many homeowners to hang on to their assets for the time being.

While the demand of potential homebuyers outweighs current housing supply, there aren’t an overwhelming number of prospective buyers out there either. Many Americans took a financial hit during the recession, and they’re less likely to take on a significant investment — such as a home — now. It’s also a bit more difficult to get a mortgage than it had been previously.


While the unemployment rate has leveled off, it’s still a significant factor in the decreased moving rate. (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Job Growth Remains a Work In Progress

The recession had a profound impact on the jobless rate in America. Unemployment spiked to about 10 percent when the recession was at its darkest point, and the job market has been slowly recovering ever since.

While the unemployment rate is now hanging relatively steady at 7 percent these days, the damage has been done. With employment no longer considered a given, Americans are showing a reluctance to look for new jobs — particularly those that are based in a new city or region. This is reflected in the recent Census report, as only 19.4 percent of those Americans who moved in the past year reported that they relocated for employment-based reasons.

While industries such as oil and gas have seen major job growth in the past few years, many other industries that involve natural resources or manufacturing haven’t seen the same growth. Job growth in these industries tends to drive employment-based moves, so the recent lack of growth has had an impact on moving rates.

For instance, it’s hard to find coal or silver mines in the middle of big cities, so many workers will have to move to a town near a mine to work there (if they’re not from the area originally). With fewer of those jobs out there for the taking in rural areas (as evidenced on this interactive map), fewer people are moving to those regions.

Moving Boxes Into Home

Expect to see the national moving rate rebound in the years to come.

Will This Trend Continue?

Although the moving rate is very close to the record low of 2011 (when 11.6 percent of Americans packed up and moved to a new home), it likely won’t stay that way for long.

As the economy continues to stabilize, confidence in the housing market will likely grow among homeowners and prospective homebuyers alike. Home valuations will likely rise, and the home financing process will likely become less daunting. So expect to see a few more “Sold” signs in front of homes and more moving trucks on the roadways.

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If you’re considering a move, look no further than Garrett’s Moving and Storage. We’ve moved thousands of customers across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and across the country since 1992. Let us work with you! Request your free consultation today!

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