National Van Lines Domestic Migration Report - Updated for Q1 2023
Table of Contents
- First Quarter 2023 Update
- Online Searches: Forecast Customer Moving Plans
- The 2022 Census Bureau Numbers*
- Where is the Nation going?
- Zooming in on the US Census: Macro and Micro Detail
- What These Migration Trends Mean for the Moving Industry
- From Here to There: Trends Continuing from 2020 through 2022
- Insight: Knowing Trends Benefits Customers
- Moving Industry Shake Ups: Shorter Moves Impact Drivers
- Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Going
First Quarter 2023 Update
The 2023 National Van Lines Migration Report is unique in that it uses real-time data, compiled each quarter of the year to determine where people may be moving to and from.
(Census information included in this report doesn’t change quarterly and remains the same from the last update in January 2023.)
Online Searches: Forecast Customer Moving Plans
Which states are long-distance movers considering?
At National Van Lines, intent is tracked via website analytics. Customer visits on the national map are one indicator of future moving plans.
These analytics anticipate our customers’ desires or plans to move.
Seeing interest from web visitors, along with in-marketing attribution, paints a good picture of where our potential customers will come from. Tracking views also guides us on how to best reach them. The top 10 states with the most initial visits by year are:
5. New York
8. North Carolina
3. New York
10. New Jersey
2. New York
8. New Jersey
3. New York
9. New Jersey
Of the three years and three months of initial visit data, six states appeared in the top 10 all three years and three months. With their placements averaged out, the ranking of those six states’ initial visit data are:
- New York
The first quarter of 2023 had some surprises, especially when compared to 2022. The number one spot in the first quarter of 2023 went to California, bumping 2022’s number one state Virginia to third. In second place for the first quarter of 2023 was Texas, which was ranked fifth in 2022. The initial findings for 2023 also included North Carolina, which was not on the list in 2022, 2021 or 2020. And New Jersey which had been near the bottom of the lists in 2020-2022 was not listed in the rankings in the first quarter of 2023.
The findings at the end of 2022 showed a significant change from the years before, with Virginia taking the top spot after being near the bottom of the top 10 in previous years. Florida and Texas maintained their rankings, while California and New York each moved down one place. Washington, Pennsylvania, and Georgia were newcomers to the top 10 in 2022, not appearing on the list in 2021.
The following states had the largest increase in individual views from 2022 to first quarter 2023. This data tells us that people from these states are exploring the possibility of a move.
- North Carolina
- New York
- South Carolina
There are three states that consistently received the least views for 1Q 2023. People from these states may not be moving any time soon.
- North Dakota
North Dakota and Alaska were ranked number one and two, respectively, for states with the least intent in 2022. The addition of Vermont to this list (and topping the list at that), is something we haven’t seen before.
It will be interesting to see whether these first quarter trends continue through the second quarter of 2023. The next update to the 2023 National Van Lines Migration Report will be published in July 2023.
The 2022 Census Bureau Numbers*
US Migration Growth Trends
The states/areas with the most growth from 2021-2022
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
The states/areas with the least growth from 2021-2022:
- Puerto Rico
- New York
- West Virginia
What about since 2020?
The states/areas with the most growth from 2020-2022:
- South Carolina
And the states/areas with the least growth from 2020-2022:
- New York
- District of Columbia
- Puerto Rico
*From the US Census Bureau’s 2022 Vintage Population Estimate
Where is the Nation going?
Where Americans Prefer to Call Home in 2020-2022
From the 2022 Vintage Population Estimate, put out by the US Census Bureau, to the intent search information gathered by National Van Lines, we can see where people are moving to and from. Knowing these migration trends is not only interesting, but helpful as well.
Why? US population migration trends are important pieces of information. Large-scale migration shifts economic powers and other strengths among the states in our nation. Having knowledge about migration trends helps individuals and companies make strategic and well-informed decisions about where to invest their futures.
Recognizing migration trends takes time. While the moving industry experienced short-term changes because of Covid in 2020 and 2021, in 2022, we saw the outcome of a longer-term migration pattern that began in 2019. What was put into motion before the pandemic ultimately became the status quo this country came back to as we “returned to normal.” However, the post-Covid world saw a bigger push for work-from-home opportunities, which had an impact on the migration towards places with a lower population.
The data National Van Lines collected supports what the US Census Bureau is estimating in their latest population estimate, and vice versa!
Zooming in on the US Census: Macro and Micro Detail
Every ten years, Congress is empowered by the Constitution to execute a population count of the United States. But in between census years, the US Census Bureau releases population estimates for each year.
The 2022 Vintage Population Estimate was released to the public on Dec. 22, 2022. This estimate of population measures changes each year until the next US Census.
The 2020 census data, 2021 Vintage Population Estimate and 2022 Vintage Population Estimate give interesting insight into US population changes.
The newest US Census data for 2022 shows that the South and West continue to grow faster than the Northeast and Midwest, as reported in our 2022 Migration Report.
In the last two years, the US experienced a population change of .6%, and when we look at the numbers by region, we see the South had a 1.9% growth since 2020. The South’s population increase of 2.5 million people between 2020 and 2022 was the largest of any region. The only other region that saw growth during this time period is the West, which gained approximately 155,000 people in the last two years, which was .2% more than in 2020.
By comparison, the Northeast and Midwest lost people during the same time frame. The Northeast’s population dropped by 1%, roughly 569,000 people, and the Midwest lost approximately 198,000 people since 2020—.3% of its population.
Idaho was the fastest-growing state between 2020 and 2022, with a population increase of 5.4%. This is not surprising, as Idaho had the greatest population increase between 2010 and 2021 (21.2%).
New York saw the biggest decrease in population since 2020, with a 2.6% loss, about 524,000 people.
During the year between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022:
- Florida had the most significant growth increase–from 416,754 to 706,597, a growth of 1.9%. Idahoand South Carolina were close behind, with 8% and 1.7% population growth increase for each, respectively.
- Puerto Rico had the greatest decline in population–1.3% down in a year. New York had a decline of .9% and Illinois had a 0.8% population decline in that year.
What These Migration Trends Mean for the Moving Industry
Having access to actual data always supersedes media perceptions. Key resources give credible insight. Data from the US Census Bureau’s 2022 Vintage Population Estimate is a way to gain credible estimates about national, state, city and local populations.
At National Van Lines, US migration trends provide foundational information for our strategic and operational plans. We watch movement flows closely, so that we can best serve our customers.
Tim Helenthal, Chairman and CEO of National Van Lines shares, “Understanding migration patterns benefits our customers and industry partners. It’s important to know areas of growth and decline in the United States. We need to get at data early to understand the beginning of trends. When considering a move, customers want to know the areas where the demand for housing, jobs and government services are high.”
From Here to There: Trends Continuing from 2020 through 2022
What is the data telling us?
Driven by Covid, people are moving from high-density areas to low-density areas. This trend didn’t start in 2020, but was definitely intensified by Covid. Specifically, there is a significant exodus out of California.
“As I connect with van line industry leaders on association committees and talk with competitors, I hear the same thing: everyone is experiencing a mass exodus out of California,” says Tim Helenthal, Chairman and CEO of National Van Lines. “California movers are filling in other parts of the country such as Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Upper Midwest states such as Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota. Trends don’t happen in one year. It can take a generation of interstate moves to balance itself out.”
However, it is important to note that in 2022, California ranked 47th in population change from 2020, which means that people may not be leaving that state as much as they did two years ago. In fact, the US Census Bureau estimated that more people left the state of New York between 2020 – 2022 than California. That’s not just a higher percentage of people; 15,176 more people left New York than California.
Another tendency is that the average distance of a customer move is declining. People are staying close to where they are originally from. The longest, cross-country moves have declined.
According to Mark Doyle, President of National Van Lines, “Of all Americans who move, 90% move less than 250 miles from where they currently live. This radius continues to shrink year after year. Working from home, people can move anywhere. Employers are able to not have to move new employees to centralized locations.”
Data proves predictable in the area of local moves. In 2015-2016, more than 63% of moves happened under 200 miles from a person’s original location. In 2019-2020, it was almost 65%. *
*US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement 2003-2020, Table A-6
“As more local communities continue to go digital and develop, people have less need for seeking employment outside of their 100-mile radius. And so, local moving trends in 2019 have reached a new high, with 45.5 % of moves being within 100 miles.” “Moving Trends & Relocation Industry Analysis,” Movers Development, July 20, 2020
Insight: Knowing Trends Benefits Customers
Migration trends help customers determine the positives or negatives of transitions to a new state. Considerations include:
- Climate (social, political, physical)
- Type of growth
- Housing availability
- Growth locations
- Strain on social and civic services
- Job availability
- Tax impact
- Infrastructure (roads, schools, government services)
“We encourage our customers to consider whether or not their desired locations can support higher population levels. If not, they may want to consider other strong alternatives. It takes time to build an infrastructure to support a large increase in population. For example, Austin, Texas is going through infrastructure growing pains now,” says Tim Helenthal, Chairman and CEO of National Van Lines.
Moving Industry Shake Ups: Shorter Moves Impact Drivers
For the moving industry, these trends affect operational strategies. Since cross-country moves have declined, driver recruitment is impacted. Moves are relegated to specific locations, such as Florida or Texas, resulting in a large number of trucks traveling to one location and/or region. This scenario puts a logistical strain on the industry.
In the past, drivers may be away from home for weeks at a time. The current patterns set up drivers to make shorter trips and potentially be at home more. Recruiting is happening in key states and regions. More regional opportunities open up for drivers. For local movers, shorter moves can mean a boom.
New truck driver skills are needed to meet industry changes.
“If current relocation trends continue, trainings and certifications that speak more towards low density, rural homes will become more useful than trainings for high density city moves. Technology is growing at a rapid pace so the ability to train employees for virtual surveys, communicate with customers remotely and provide great customer service from afar become more valuable. Companies that put the effort into training and certifying employees offer customers a peace of mind,“ says Katie McMichael, Director Moving and Storage Convention for the American Trucking Association.
Van lines want to ensure the appropriate agent representation.
Tim Helenthal, Chairman and CEO of National Van Lines shares, “For the moving industry, we have to be flexible. We have to be willing to change processes and goals to meet customer needs. We can’t rely on yesterday’s business model to support today’s demand. Processes must be reinvented.”
Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Going
National Van Lines’ 2023 population migration findings are anecdotal for now but show a clear trajectory away from the most populated areas, which we believe we will continue to see in years ahead. The US Census Bureau’s Vintage Population Estimate for 2022 supports much of what we’ve seen as a company in the last two years. And while national news reports people are leaving California, New York has lost more people in the last two years. In short, we are in the midst of a population shift towards lesser populated places like Idaho and Montana, as well as towards states with warmer climates such as Florida, South Carolina and Texas.
The changes in population migration between 2020 and 2022 were influenced by many factors, including the economy, job opportunities, the Covid-19 pandemic, and a large aging population at or nearing retirement. Seeing where Americans are going and why can help us determine how to effectively serve our customers.
As more data is collected and released, our analytics and tactics will adjust. National Van Lines will update this document as more information comes out.
National Van Lines, Inc. is a first-class van line that has been trusted by more than one million families for the last 90+ years. As a team of qualified professional movers, the National Van Lines’ team handles all types of moving projects from long distance moves to small relocations.
For more information on reasons to trust National Van Lines with your precious household items and business assets, visit our website at: https://www.nationalvanlines.com/about/why-nvl/