Once Adventurous, Americans Are Now Settling Down and Staying Put. Why?

December 5, 2019
Oregon Trail Covered Wagon
Image by Artodidact from Pixabay

Americans love opportunity: From the Gold Rush’s frenzy West to the current draw of affordable Midwestern cities, we’re a nation that moves. Or are we? Over the past 35 years, the number of people who pack up for a new frontier has cut in half. Lower incomes, debt, and an aging population that is staying put in both jobs and housing all contribute to the average American putting down roots for the long haul. 

The story of America is one of moving.

A total of 13.6% of Americans today were born in another country, and most of us are descended from immigrants. This story of migration also includes moving within the country. Over the last 200 years, Americans have settled the frontier, moved away from cities toward suburbs, and migrated away from cities in the Northeast toward the South and West.

This narrative that Americans are constantly moving within the country is no longer true.

Over the last 35 years, the number of Americans who have moved — within their county, state, or out of state — has steadily declined to nearly half of their previous levels.

Between March 2018 and 2019, only 1.5% of Americans moved from one state to another, and 5.9% moved from one home to another while remaining in the same county.

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