Geographic Mobility: Key Trends & Sources

Posted by Frank Gallo - On September 10, 2015 (EST)

Highlights from New Census Bureau Data on Geographic Mobility

In recent months the U.S. Census Bureau has issued a series of useful tables and charts on geographic mobility trends, which are highly relevant to the planning and operation of employment and training programs. We've summarized the key findings related to employment, and the included the links to each type of data.

Americans are a famously mobile people, exemplified by the westward expansion. But even following the purported closing of the frontier in 1890 after all the current states had been settled, Americans continued their marked propensity to move. The 20th century witnessed mass immigration, the migration of African Americans from the South northward, and the later Rust Belt-to-Sun Belt migration. Americans are no longer as peripatetic, but in any given year about one in nine households change residences. The cumulative effect of this rate of mobility has a substantial impact on the U.S. economy. A 2010 study found that more than two-fifths of Americans no longer resided in their state, territory or country where they were born — and this of course includes many children and young people who will later move. By age 75 or older, only half of Americans resided in the state where they were born. Even this figure doesn’t count most moves, which tend to occur within states. Based on recent patterns, the average 18 year-old is expected to move 9 more times.

You can find information in our summary on

• How mobile Americans are, and how much we move;

• Job-related and other reasons behind moves;

• How far people move;

• How to find state, metro area, and county-specific geographic mobility data;

• Geographic mobility mapping tools;

• Understanding geographic terminology; and

• Internet links to geographic mobility data.


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