Americans Less on the Move, Census Says

High unemployment and housing woes are forcing more Americans to stay put, new Census Bureau data shows. In fact, Americans are moving less than they ever have on record, since the Census Bureau started tracking such data in 1948. 

In the last year, about 35.1 million of Americans — or 11.6 percent — moved to a new home, which is down from 12.5 percent in the previous year. The record for American mobility was 21.2 percent, reached in 1951. 

The decrease in mobility is mostly attributed to baby boomers who are putting off retirement due to economic losses and young adults postponing home ownership and increasingly moving back in with their parents, analysts say. Young adults aged 25 to 29 tend to be the most mobile age group. But in the last year, this age group’s moves dropped to 24.1 percent from 25.9 percent the previous year. 

Retirees who usually flock to Sun Belt states for retirement are also putting their plans on hold. Population growth in the most popular retiree hotspots — such as Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico — dropped nearly half compared to the 2000-2007 timespan, the Census Bureau reports.

However, urban, high-tech college areas are proving to be a bright spot, continuing to draw young professionals. For example, some of the cities posting the biggest gains in residents from the 2008-2010 data are: 

  • Raleigh, N.C. 
  • Austin, Texas 
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Houston
  • Denver 
  • Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore 
  • Washington, D.C.

“Right now, the ‘cool’ cities are serving as way stations for the small number of adventurous young people who are willing to move in a down economy,” says William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer. “But when the broader economy picks up, a much larger group of people will move to wherever the jobs spring up.”

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