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Why people are moving

Shea Huffman Jun 6, 2014

The U.S. Census Bureau released its survey detailing how many Americans moved from one residence to another, and for what reasons. The results showed that compared to the past, fewer Americans have been moving, and those that did were motivated to move mostly due to housing related reasons like wanting a better residence.

Some of the numbers aren’t surprising, as one might expect fewer Americans to move amid the economic downturn, or for housing problems to force people to move.

However, a closer look at the numbers, which track 2012 to 2013, reveals some interesting trends, as the report highlights that moves related to jobs were not as frequent as housing or family-related moves, and that some demographics are more likely to move due to job-related reasons than others. Here are some points in the report that stood out:

Coutesy of the U.S. Census Bureau

Housing-related reasons for moving

Moves related to finding housing made up the largest portion of responses in the survey, coming in at 48 percent. In that group, 15 percent of people said they moved to find new or better residences, which decreased from 21 percent in 1999.

African American respondents were the most likely to move for housing-related reasons of any race

Over half of African American respondents said their main reason for moving was housing related. This was compared to white respondents, 46.8 percent of whom said housing was their motivation for moving.

Young people were the least likely to move for housing reasons

Respondents 18 to 24 and 25 to 29 years old had the most housing-related reasons for moving, but the two groups had the lowest percentages for reasons in that category compared to other age groups. Movers 18 to 24 years old instead said reasons like moving for college were big motivators for them, while respondents 25 to 29 years old had more job-related reasons for moving.

Family-related reasons for moving

This category included reasons like changes in marital status and wanting to establish one’s own household. Family reasons were the second largest category at more than 30 percent.

Married people had the least family-related reasons to move

Respondents who split up with spouses had high family-related reasons for moving at 47 percent. For those who stayed married, family was not an issue for moving, with only 26.1 percent in that category. Married respondents instead moved more for job-related reasons, with 24 percent saying a change in employment status caused them to move.

Coutesy of the U.S. Census Bureau

Job-related reasons for moving

Moving for work came in around a little under 20 percent for all respondents, a rate that has remained pretty steady since 1999.

Men were more likely to move for work than women

According to the survey, while more women moved, 20.4 percent of men said they moved for job-related reasons, compared to 18.5 percent of women. The report did not mention whether this indicates men are more willing to move for work, or if there are differences in how men and women select jobs based on location.

More educated people are more likely to move for work

Again, while housing-related reasons dominated most responses, the survey found a split according to education level. The more education a respondent had, the more likely they were to move for a job, with 28.3 percent of bachelor degree holders saying they moved for job related purposes. People on the other end of the spectrum, such as associate degree holders, had much higher percentages for housing and family related reasons for moving, with high school dropouts having 54.2 percent of their responses in the housing category.

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