2006 United Van Lines Migration Study

Jan 7, 2007 – A strong mobility pattern continued in 2006 as many Americans packed up their belongings and headed to the West and Southeast parts of the country, while the Central Northeast region of the country experienced an increase in residents departing. The statistics are among the findings of United Van Line’s 30th annual “migration” study that tracks where its customers, over the last 12 months, moved from and the most popular destinations. The findings were announced by Carl Walter, vice president of United Van Lines, the nation’s largest household goods mover.

United has tracked shipment patterns annually on a state-by-state basis since 1977. For 2006, the accounting is based on the 227,254 interstate household moves handled by United among the 48 contiguous states, as well as Washington, D.C. In its study, United classifies each state in one of three categories — “high inbound” (55% or more of moves going into a state); “high outbound” (55% or more of moves coming out of a state); or “balanced.” Although the majority of states were in the “balanced” category last year, several showed more substantial population shifts.

Moving In

Known for hospitality and gracious style, the Southeast states welcomed many new residents in 2006, with North Carolina coming in as the top destination (64.0% inbound). South Carolina (60.6%) continued its 13-year inbound tradition, while Alabama (57.5%) experienced its fourth year as a high-inbound location. Although Tennesseesaw less people move in this year (55.8% in 2006; 58.0% in 2005), it still captured a spot on the high-inbound list.

Although not considered “high inbound,” other southeastern states also greeted new residents. Kentucky (52.9%) continued its five-year inbound trend; Georgia (53.9%) continued its 25-year trend as an inbound state; andMississippi (50.1%) boasted a 3.2% increase in moves to its state as compared to 2005.

Supporting the idea that Americans still believe there is fortune to be found in the West, the Western portion of the country emerged as a top migration spot. Capturing the No. 2-inbound ranking, Oregon (62.5%) sustained its 19-year, high-inbound trend. While still a high-inbound state, Arizona (55.4%) saw roughly 5% less people move in than last year; however, Nevada (59.9%) continued its lucky streak of being high inbound since 1986.

Both New Mexico (57.9% inbound; a 3.7% increase) and Utah (56.0% inbound; nearly 6% increase) saw a rise of incoming residents as compared to last year’s data. Idaho’s (59.3% inbound) high-inbound ranking has held steady for the past 19 years; and Montana (55.0% inbound) retained its five-year inbound status.

Although not considered “high inbound,” other Western states witnessed increases of incoming moves as compared to last year: Colorado (54.7% inbound) continued its four-year inbound trend and had 1.2% increase, and Wyoming (54.4% inbound) boasted a 4.3% increase.

Rounding out the of high-inbound list are Washington, D.C. (57.9%), which has remained inbound since the first year of the study, and South Dakota (55.9%), which enjoyed its first high-inbound year since 1994.

Some other noteworthy inbound-migration states in 2006:

  • Texas (54.6%) continued inbound movement since 1989 and saw slightly (0.7%) more people move in as compared to last year.
  • After being outbound last year, Nebraska (52.5% inbound) turned a new leaf and has 3.2% more moves in as compared to 2005.
  • Although it is considered a balanced state, Oklahoma (50.0%) saw a 3% increase over last year’s numbers.
  • This year marked the first time in 25 years that Minnesota (51.3%) saw more people entering than leaving.

Moving Out

States in the Central Northeast generally showed an outbound trend, according to United’s records. Ranked No. 2 on the high-outbound list last year, Michigan (66.0%) moved up a spot to tie for the top outbound state on this year’s list. Michigan saw a 2.1% increase over its 2005 numbers.

Other Central Northeast states that made the high-outbound list were: New York (59.5%), which has been an outbound state since the survey was established; Indiana (58.2%), which has been high outbound since 1993; andIllinois (55.7%), which has been high outbound since the survey’s inception. Also continuing outbound traditions,New Jersey (60.9%, outbound since 1997), Pennsylvania (57.0%, high outbound for the past three years), andOhio (55.8%, outbound since 1992) saw residents depart.

Rounding out the high-outbound states, Louisiana (56.4%) continued its two-year, high-outbound trend, but did see 1.5% less people leave as compared to last year’s numbers. Continuing its reign as the top outbound state of 2005, North Dakota (66.0%) tied this year with Michigan for the state that lost the most residents. The year of 2006 marked the eleventh consecutive year that North Dakota has been classified as high outbound.

Not identified as “high outbound,” but following the outbound trend in the Central Northeastern part of the country, Connecticut (52.4%) saw its fourth successive year of out-migration and Maryland (54.1%) continued its 15-year outbound tradition.

Some other noteworthy outbound states in this year’s study were:

  • California (52.4%) saw its lowest outbound percentage in four years.
  • Missouri (51.8%) continued its 12-year outbound trend and had 1% more residents leave as compared to last year.
  • Wisconsin (53.2%) witnessed its lowest outbound influx since 2000.

Walter said the United Van Lines study, through the years, has been shown to accurately reflect the general migration patterns in various regions of the country. He also noted that real estate firms, financial institutions, and other observers of relocation trends regularly use the United data in their business planning and analysis activities.

About United

United Van Lines, with headquarters in suburban St. Louis, maintains a network of 1,000 affiliated agencies throughout the world. As the nation’s largest mover, United holds more than 30 percent of the market, which is nearly double the market share of the second largest carrier. More information about United and its services can be obtained through the company’s Web site at unitedc.wpenginepowered.com.


Attached, for your reference, is a listing of total shipments by United Van Lines in each state, including a breakdown of inbound and outbound shipments by number and percentage, as well as a map showing migration trends for each state.


For more information on United or if you are a member of the press and have questions/comments, please email our Director of Communications: Eily_Cummings@unigroup.com