New Jersey is No. 1.

Those pulling up roots have put the Garden State in the top spot nationally for outbound residents - at least, so says United Van Lines.

The company has released its 2012 migration study, listing the most moved-into states and those that people are leaving.

National trends show people leaving the Northeast and heading to the Southeast and Northwest. The main reasons are jobs, housing, taxes, and weather, said economist Michael Stoll, chair of the department of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Stoll once lived in Boston and New York City, but headed left 12 years ago for UCLA, where ragtops outnumber snow tires.

Hurricane Sandy accounts for some of the 3,925 people the van line moved out of New Jersey last year.

Did MTV's recently ended Jersey Shore drive off others? Did the outspoken Gov. Christie help attract the people who moved in?

Such Jersey personalities are marginal, Stoll said.

"You can't blame Snooki," he said, offering instead the state's highest-in-the-nation taxes and small job growth.

So where do people want to live?

The nation's capital, plus Oregon, Nevada, and the Carolinas, according to United.

Beyond New Jersey, other top losers are West Virginia, New York state, and New Mexico.

Stoll noted that Philadelphia has heavily recruited to create jobs, which slowed migration out of the Keystone State.

There was good and bad news for Pennsylvania. The state would rank among the top 10 on the loser list, but the company lists only the top five. It considers Pennsylvania's migration neutral, with 54.2 percent of people who hired United wanting to move away.

Such is not the case in New Jersey. United's numbers show that last year, 62 percent of New Jersey migrators headed out rather than in, allowing the state to reclaim its 2010 distinction. Last year, Illinois was first; this year, the Land of Lincoln is second.

Illinois native Dan Lane, 37, an insurance company investor, was among those who moved to New Jersey. He left Illinois in 2008 for graduate school and had been in Kansas before arriving in North Jersey's Morristown on New Year's Eve.

Lane said he and his wife were thrilled to live so close to New York City. They are renting and have not experienced the housing market or high property taxes.

The 2012 report notes that states such as Florida, Texas, and California have more moves than other states because of sheer size.

United says it has been tracking such data since 1977.

Company spokesperson Melisa Sullivan, from migration-neutral Missouri (faring only slightly better than Pennsylvania, with 54.1 percent leaving), said that although the raw numbers were significantly different from census figures, trends were similar.

The most recent census migration study, from 2011, reflects regional population shifts similar to United's. But the District of Columbia population, according to the census, declined by 1,666.

Pennsylvania, however, made it to No. 9 on the census winner list, with nearly 2 percent more people moving in than moving out. In 2011, United showed Pennsylvania losing slightly more than 3 percent of those moving.

The census attempts to track all people who move. A family of four would be calculated as four moves. United reflects paid relocations: One family equals one relocation.

Smith said clients include Fortune 500 employees relocated by employers and retirees heading south. United tracked 130,376 moves in 2012. The census tracked nearly seven million people who moved to different states in 2011.

Only Alaska topped New Jersey, losing 72 percent of migrators, according to the census.

The trucking company did not report migration for Hawaii and Alaska.

On all three lists, New Jersey was the only state that consistently lost more than 60 percent of those migrating.

Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838,, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.