2008 United Van Lines Migration Study

Jan 5, 2009 – ST. LOUIS – The Mid-Atlantic and Western regions proved to be popular destinations in 2008 for those looking to change their places of residence. The findings are among the results of United Van Lines’ 32nd annual “migration” study, which tracks where its customers moved from and their most popular destinations over the past 12 months. The findings were announced today 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 2008, the study is based on the 198,962 interstate household moves handled by United among the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. United classifies the states as “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.”

Moving In

Mid-Atlantic states came out ahead in 2008, with the District of Columbia (62.1%) reigning as the top destination, North Carolina (58.2%) capturing third place (dropping from the No. 1 spot in 2007) and South Carolina (56.4%) coming in as the seventh highest inbound state. And although it’s not considered a high-inbound state, Delaware (54%) showed signs of growth in 2008.

While the Mid-Atlantic states flourished, their neighbors to the north weren’t as fortunate. Only two Northeastern states experienced inbound migration this year – Vermont (52.2%) and Massachusetts (51.8%).

Across the country, Oregon (55.6%) and Nevada (59.2%) remained popular states – both continued to achieve high-inbound status. Oregon celebrated 21 consecutive years of high-inbound migration, while Nevada celebrated 23 years. In addition, Wyoming (57.8%) topped its own record of the highest percentage of inbound moves, andSouth Dakota (57.3%,), a recent newcomer to the high-inbound list, made the high-inbound list for the third year in a row.

Alabama (58.1%) was the only Southern state represented on the high-inbound list in 2008. Although they are not classified as high-inbound states, the overwhelming majority of Southern states, including Texas (54.6%),Louisiana(54%), Mississippi (51.8%) and Georgia (51.2%), experienced more inbound moves than outbound moves.

The Midwest also experienced positive moving trends in 2008. Missouri (54%) ended its 13-year outbound trend with a 5.4 point increase over last year’s percentage, while Tennessee (54.6%), Arkansas (54.3%) and Kentucky(51%) showed positive trends.

Moving Out

The historical data pulled from United’s migration study over the past 32 years shows an overall outbound trend for the Great Lakes region. Michigan (67.1%) again captured the top outbound spot, a title held since 2006.Indiana (57%) also earned the distinction of being a high-outbound state, continuing a 15-year trend. Other Great Lakes states that made the high-outbound list were New York (55.1%) and Illinois (57.2%), both of which have been outbound states since the survey was established in 1977.

North Dakota (58.9%) ranked second on the high-outbound states list in 2008 with a decline of 8.3 percentage points in outbound moves between 2007 and 2008.

Five Northeastern states round out this year’s high-outbound states. New Jersey (58.7%) ranked third in high-outbound states, continuing an outbound trend that began in 1988. Pennsylvania (58%), an outbound state since 1977, came in fourth, and Rhode Island (57.8%) continued its six-year outbound status with a 6.4 percentage point increase in outbound moves, and Maine (55.8%) witnessed a 4 percentage point increase in outbound moves over 2007.

Another Northeastern state, Connecticut (53.5%), ranked as an outbound state for the sixth year in a row.Maryland (52.6%), the only Mid-Atlantic state on the outbound list, retained its 17-year outbound tradition.


While the majority of states are considered balanced, this year’s study revealed that six states said hello to almost exactly the same number of residents as those they bid farewell. Two of the six states – Minnesota andFlorida – are considered perfectly balanced with 50 percent inbound and 50 percent outbound. The Midwest produced a handful of states that achieved a near-perfect balance in 2008, including Kansas and Iowa. Washington and West Virginia rounded out the list of states that ended the year with a near-perfect balance.

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 professionals who observe relocation trends regularly use the United data in their business planning and economic analyses.

About United

United Van Lines, with headquarters in suburban St. Louis, is one of the nation’s largest household goods movers and maintains a network of 1,000 affiliated agencies in 135 countries.

Editor’s Note:

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