On the House: Americans still moving, but less than before
Spring is here, and with it what traditionally is prime season for buying and selling homes. Moving companies, therefore, are inspired to begin e-mailing me their latest surveys detailing who is pulling up stakes and where they are hammering them back in.
Spring is here, and with it what traditionally is prime season for buying and selling homes.
Moving companies, therefore, are inspired to begin e-mailing me their latest surveys detailing who is pulling up stakes and where they are hammering them back in.
I know my decision to forgo reporting on these surveys will likely make Atlas shrug. Still, I've found a couple of interesting studies I retweeted recently (@alheavens) that I believe tell the current story much better.
The Census Bureau blog, Random Samplings, reports that despite the prolonged real estate downturn, people are still moving.
The author, David Ihrke, said that in 2013 and 2014, 35.9 million people, one-ninth of the U.S. population or 11.5 percent, if you prefer, changed residences. Two-thirds of those age 1 year and older moved within the same county, and about 3 percent were from abroad.
The distance moved appeared to be affected by the mover's education level, Ihrke said.
Those with college degrees were more likely to move to a different county or abroad. Of movers 25 and older, 36.5 percent with bachelor's, graduate or professional degrees moved between counties, he said.
Motivation also varied by education.
Among college-educated movers, the top two reasons for pulling up stakes were a new job or a transfer, and for a new or better home or apartment.
Other reasons included establishing a household and wanting to own a home rather than rent, Ihrke said.
Movers who did not graduate from high school reported different reasons. A smaller percentage moved for employment or to buy a house, and more said they were doing so for family reasons or to find cheaper housing.
Another fascinating take comes from Zillow senior economist Skylar Olsen, who writes about studies showing that the number of Americans who move in a given year continues to fall, and that the reasons are changing.
As Ihrke's study showed, one-ninth of the U.S. population moved last year. Looking back at what I've written over the last 26 years, it was always one in seven.
Between 1990 and 2000, Olsen said, the number of Americans 16 and older who moved in the previous year fell 2.2 percent. Census figures Olsen used show that in 2014 (Ihrke looked at 2013 and 2014), 26.9 million Americans moved, 14 percent fewer than did in 2000.
Among the explanations for this trend Olsen cited is the aging of the U.S. population, because older Americans tend to move less than younger ones. Yet the data show that younger Americans also are not moving as much as they once did.
A more compelling argument, said Olsen, centers on the rise of service jobs and decline of "tradable work" as a share of total employment nationally.
As in 2000, the common reason given for moving is to acquire new or better housing, Olsen said, but that motivation lost prominence after the height of the housing bubble and the subsequent recession.
Owning rather than renting was second on the 2000 list, but sixth in 2013, another legacy of the recession.
Today, the fastest-growing reasons for moving include more affordable housing, a more manageable commute, and establishing one's own household, Olsen said.
If fewer moves mean widespread opportunities and the viability of telecommuting, that's OK, Olsen said.
But if stagnating incomes and the rising cost of housing stop people from moving, "that's a much larger problem for the market," Olsen said.