Decline of Geographic Mobility

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The Decline in Geographic Mobility

During the past three decades, geographic mobility within the United States has declined steadily. A combination of factors is cited as the reason for the decline in a study from the Federal Reserve, including an aging population, rising homeownership rates, and a decrease in labor market transitions. These labor transitions are defined as a decline in the fraction of workers moving from job to job, changing industry, and changing occupation.  The study notes, “Declines in internal migration since the mid-2000s have attracted the attention of researchers and the public because they coincided with a dramatic housing market contraction and deep economic recession.”

Making sense of the story

  • Between 1984 and 1985, 20.2 percent or one out of every five Americans over the age of 1 year moved. In the most recent period, between 2012 and 2013, the mover rate was only 11.7 percent.
  • According to the Census Bureau, 23.2 percent of those 25 to 29 years moved between 2012 and 2013. After 30, the share declines with age and for those 65 years and older only 3.7 percent moved between 2012 and 2013.
  • As the population ages, measures of geographic mobility are unlikely to return to levels seen in the mid-1980s. After all, by 2030 it is predicted that there will be 72.1 million seniors.
  • Particularly important to the housing industry is the mobility of individuals between the ages of 25 to 29 years, as they represent future first-time homebuyers.
  • For the second straight period, the share of movers doing so to own rather than rent a home increased. Between 2012 and 2013, 5.2 percent of all movers in the younger age group did so to own rather than rent, whereas between 2011 and 2010, 4.4 percent did so to own rather than rent.
  • The most common reason for people in this younger age group to move between 2012 and 2013 was to establish their own household at roughly 14.2 percent.

Source: The Federal Reserve

Category : Blog

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