More people are moving out of New Jersey than are moving in. The same is true for New York and Illinois. Those three states top the “outbound” list compiled by United Van Lines, the big St. Louis-based moving company that has put together an annual survey of where Americans are moving for the last 38 years. The company analyzed a total of 128,000 moves across the 48 continental states and the District of Columbia in 2014 and came up with a picture of migration patterns across the US.
According to Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy at University of California, Los Angeles, and a consultant to United Van Lines who studies American migration, the moves reflect the increasing numbers of retiring baby boomers who are leaving colder, more expensive states in the Northeast and Midwest in favor of lower-cost locations with retirement infrastructures like Florida and Arizona. Long-term shifts in the US economy and the hit to employment in many states resulting from the slow recovery are also prompting many Americans to relocate.
New Jersey has been stuck at the top of the outbound list for four of the past five years. In 2014 nearly 65% more people moved out than moved in. According to Stoll, the Great Recession hit the state especially hard, accelerating a longtime shift in manufacturing to the southern states, away from the Northeast. Damage done by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the slow pace of rebuilding since has also driven people away. Plus New Jersey has a population that is older than other states’ and the cold climate is driving retirement-age people south. Further, housing costs tend to be high there, especially in northern New Jersey which is subject to demand from people who work in Manhattan.
New York comes in at second place for some of the same reasons. High housing prices, more retirees and a desire for a warmer climate are driving lots of people out of the state. Like New Jersey, Illinois, at No. 3 on the list, got hit disproportionately hard by the Great Recession, notes Stoll, especially in the manufacturing sector, and the state has had a slow recovery. Though job losses have slowed, the rate of job growth in Illinois is still below the national average and its older population has been relocating.