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Pandemic Did Not Disrupt Decline in Rate of People Moving

U.S. Census Bureau

The 2021 mover rate was lower than all prior mover rates from 1948 to 2020, in 2021, 8.4% of people lived in a different residence one year ago, down from 9.3% in 2020, marking a new historical low.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop a decline in the nation’s mover rate which in 2021 was at a new low over more than seven decades, according to the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). The 2021 mover rate was less than half what it was in 1948.

In the CPS ASEC, migration is measured as having a different residence one year prior to being interviewed from February to April. For example, 2021 CPS ASEC migration estimates captured people who changed residences from early 2020 to early 2021. 

The 2020 and 2021 CPS ASEC migration estimates reflect different time periods relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2021 data, most possible moving days occurred during the pandemic, while in the 2020 data, most possible moving days occurred before the pandemic.

Moving Slowdown

A falling mover rate is nothing new, and the pandemic did not disrupt this decline.

Over the past five years, both the annual mover rate and number of movers fell (from the previous year) in 2018, 2020, and 2021. (Neither the mover rate nor the number of movers changed statistically in 2017 or 2019). The number of movers declined in 2018, 2020, and 2021 despite continued U.S. population growth.

The 2021 mover rate decline is even more dramatic when compared to what it was more than seven decades ago.

In 1948, the first year the CPS collected this information, the mover rate was 20.2%, more than twice the 2021 mover rate (8.4%). The 2021 mover rate was lower than all prior mover rates from 1948 to 2020, creating a new historical low.

Further data breakdowns can be found here

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