In by moving van; out by drive-it-yourself

Annual migrations surveys show mixed results for Alabama

U-Haul truck on the job.
U-Haul truck on the job.

Are people moving into Alabama or out? It all depends on whom you ask — or at least on how you’re moving.

United Van Lines says that Alabama is number 6 of the 50 states for percentage of inbound migration, following Vermont, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida, which the van company notes are all among the 20 least densely populated states in the nation.

United Van Lines map highlights state with highest inbound migration in dark blue.
United Van Lines map highlights state with highest inbound migration in dark blue.

By contrast, U-Haul ranked Alabama Number 46, down from its Number 22 slot last year. U-Haul calculates its annual ranking by the number of one-way trucks entering a state, compared to the number leaving it — based on some 2 million moves.

United Van Lines, which also surveys people about why they have moved, found a pandemic-related trend to move closer to family, while the long-time move motivator of a new job dropped from more than 60% in 2015 to 32.5%.

“This new data from United Van Lines is indicative of COVID-19’s impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the moving company’s press release. “We’re seeing this not only occur because of Americans’ desire to leave high density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we’re able to work, with more flexibility to work remote.”

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U-Haul, where Texas topped the inbound list, quotes Texas officials attributing the influx to job opportunities.

“We see a lot of growth coming from the East and West Coast,” said Matt Merrill, U-Haul Area District vice president of the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex and West Texas. “A lot of people moving here from California (and) New York. We also see a lot of people coming in from the Chicago markets. I think that’s a lot due to the job growth — a lot of opportunity here. The cost of living here is much lower than those areas. Texas is open for business.”

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