Why Are Americans Moving at Historically Low Rates?
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Americans are moving at historically low rates. In 2017, 34.9 million Americans changed residences, translating to a household mobility rate of 10.9%. That’s the lowest mobility, or what we’ll also refer to as a “moving rate,” that the U.S. has seen since the Census Bureau started keeping track more than 50 years ago.
Millennials have been charged with ruining everything “from dinner dates to golf” – but are they also to blame for America’s low mobility rate? No. But their reasons for moving in recent years are changing.
In 2017, 38.4% of 18 to 34 year olds lived with parents or other relatives, up from 28.7% in 1962. And, when compared with older generations when they were the same age, millennials move at much lower rates. However, that narrative clouds the real story—that mobility has decreased across all age groups. For the millennials who are moving, they’re moving more to strike out on their own rather than for traditional reasons such as getting married. To better understand millennial mobility, Trulia analyzed the reasons why people move, with an eye toward what sets millennials apart and how the young cohort is changing.
We found that millennials are not ruining mobility at all, rather:
When broken out by age group, the composition of movers has remained consistent over time. Mobility among millennials is at an all-time low—but that’s true for everyone else as well.
Marriage is less of a reason to move: younger Americans today are nearly twice as likely as they were in 2000 to move out to be on their own as opposed to marriage being a primary reason.
Young women are closing the gap for job-related moves. While job-related moves for young males has remained consistent over the last two decades, young women moved for jobs at a rate 5 percentage points higher in 2017 than in 2000.
Millennials are rebounding from the effects of the recession, moving for positive reasons – such as to own instead of rent, or for better housing – at higher rates, and moving for negative reasons – specifically, for cheaper housing – at lower rates.
Mobility Across the Ages
Other than a spike in moves by young adults in the 1970s and 1980s – when the Baby Boomer generation started forming their own households — the proportion of moves made up by each age group has stayed relatively constant. This suggests that the reasons behind millennials’ recent low mobility are not generation-specific. Mobility rates have steadily declined in the last decades, proportionately across all age groups.Young Americans Are Striking out on Their OwnThough housing-related reasons account for the majority of moves across all three age groups, family is a close second for younger Americans – driven by their desire to start their own households. That’s come at the expense of marriage as a primary reason to get a different home.The reasons Americans give about moving can be aggregated into three main reasons: family-related (e.g. change in marital status, or to establish their own household), housing-related (e.g. to own instead of rent, or for new or better housing), and job-related (e.g. moving for a new job). Of these three categories, moves for housing-related reasons are the most prevalent across all age groups. However, young
Americans are significantly less likely than other age groups to move due to housing, with family-related reasons taking up more ground.Young Americans are about twice as likely than their older counterparts to move because they want to establish their own household – unsurprising, as older age groups will have already established their own households. However, this reason has gained strength over time among young Americans. In 2000, young adults moved to establish their own household 2.5-times more frequently than they did because of getting married. In 2017, they are doing so 4.2-times more frequently.Note that family-related reasons account for about the same percentage of moves over time; 26% in 2000 and 29% in 2016. In other words, millennials are still moving at the same rate due to decisions surrounding family – but instead of moving for marriage, they’re moving to strike out on their own.
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