Despite the population loss recorded in the most recent census, more people appear to be moving into West Virginia, according to the United Van Lines 45th Annual National Movers Study.
Overall, people are moving from cities and states that are crowded to more rural areas, the research found.
Based on the company’s data for customers’ state-to-state migration patterns, Vermont had the highest percentage of inbound migration (74 percent). South Dakota (69 percent), South Carolina (63 percent) West Virginia (63 percent) and Florida (62 percent) also topped the list of the states with the most inbound population for 2021.
The state with the greatest outbound migration was New Jersey (71 percent), which has held the spot for the past four years. Other states on that list include Illinois (67 percent) New York (63 percent), Connecticut (60 percent) and California (59 percent).
The survey also revealed that 31.8 percent of Americans moved to be closer to family – a new trend coming out of the pandemic as priorities and lifestyle choices shift.
Additionally, 32.5 percent of Americans moved for a new job or job transfer, a significant decrease from 2015, when more than 60 percent of Americans cited a job or transfer.
“This new data from United Van Lines is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” said Michael A. Stoll, an economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high-density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote.”
The top inbound states of 2021 were:
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Of the top 10 inbound states, six — Vermont, South Dakota, West Virginia, Alabama, Oregon and Idaho — are among the 20 least densely populated states in America, with less than 100 people per square mile. Tennessee and South Carolina are also among the top 25.
The top outbound states for 2021 were:
- New Jersey
- New York
Nine of the top 10 outbound states are considered densely populated, further illustrating America’s shift to less-crowded states.
Since 1977, United Van Lines has tracked state-by-state migration patterns. The 2021 study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. It ranks states based on the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state.
United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55 percent or more of the moves are going into a state, and “high outbound” if 55 percent or more moves are coming out of a state. It dubs states “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.