United Van Lines migration map Infographic: United Van Lines
United Van Lines 2017 Movers Study shows the western U.S. is attracting more and more residents

Where will freight flow? To the west, truckers, to the west

Annual movers study finds western states such as Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada attracting more residents.

One way truckers can get a glimpse of future U.S. freight patterns is to look at the states Americans are moving to. And if the 41st annual National Movers Study conducted by United Van Lines is any guide, freight volumes are going to continue shifting westward – specifically to the Rocky Mountain region and Pacific northwest – while Northeastern and Midwestern states continue losing residents.

In 2017, more residents moved out of Illinois than any other state with 63% of moves being outbound, according to the study while Vermont of all places had the highest percentage of inbound migration – with nearly 68% of moves to and from the state being inbound.

However, as a region, the western states continue increasing in popularity with 54% of moves being inbound, United Van Lines discerned. Prominent states on the “high-inbound” include Oregon (65%), Idaho (63%), Nevada (61%), Washington (59%), and Colorado (56%).

Of moves to Oregon, the highest ranking western state, a new job or company transfer (49%) and proximity to family (24%) led the reasons for most inbound moves.

Southern states also saw a high number of people moving in with 52% of total moves being inbound, United Van Lines found, again with the top reasons for moving south included company transfer/new job, retirement and proximity to family.

By contrast, the Northeast continues to experience a moving deficit with New Jersey (63% outbound), New York (61%) and Connecticut (57%) making the list of top outbound states for the third consecutive year. Massachusetts (56%) also joined the top outbound list this year, the moving company noted.

"This year's data reflects longer-term trends of movement to the western and southern states, especially to those where housing costs are relatively lower, climates are more temperate and job growth has been at or above the national average, among other factors," noted Michael Stoll, an economist and professor in the department of public policy at the University of California-Los Angeles, who worked on this study.

“We're also seeing continued migration to the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West as young professionals and retirees leave California," he added

The Mountain West was the most popular destination for retirees with one in four movers indicating they chose to move to a particular state for retirement. Top regions attracting those taking new jobs included the Midwest (61%) and Pacific West (59%). The region with the largest exodus of residents due to finding jobs elsewhere was the South (61%), according to the data gathered United Van Lines.

Finally, across all regions, nearly one in five of those who moved in 2017 moved to be closer to family, the company said.

United Van Lines has tracked migration patterns annually on a state-by-state basis since 1977. For 2017, the study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.

The top inbound states for 2017 were:

  1. Vermont
  2. Oregon
  3. Idaho
  4. Nevada
  5. South Dakota
  6. Washington
  7. South Carolina
  8. North Carolina
  9. Colorado
  10. Alabama

New to the 2017 top inbound list are Colorado at No. 9 and Alabama at No. 10 with 56% and 55% inbound moves, respectively.

The top outbound states for 2017 were:

  1. Illinois
  2. New Jersey
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. Kansas
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Ohio
  8. Kentucky
  9. Utah
  10. Wisconsin

Illinois (63%) moved up one spot on the outbound list to No. 1, ranking in the top five for the past nine years. New Jersey previously held the top spot for five consecutive years. New additions to the 2017 top outbound list include Massachusetts (56%) and Wisconsin (55%).

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