The 2020 Atlas® Van Lines Migration Patterns study found that 23 U.S. states registered as balanced—meaning that moves in and out of the states were roughly equal—12 as outbound, and 15 as inbound, in addition to Washington, D.C. The data also showed a decrease in moves from 2019 to 2020. The study has been conducted since 1993 to track the nation’s interstate (between states), cross-border (U.S. to Canada only), and international (between countries) moving patterns annually.

Millions of Americans relocated in 2020 because of COVID-19, moving out of college dorms that abruptly closed, moving back to home states to work remotely, moving out of housing that no longer suited their lifestyle and more. Alternatively, companies relocated employees at much lower rates for work assignments in the U.S. and abroad. It’s clear COVID-19 was a deciding factor in moving patterns in 2020, having a unique impact on moving trends.

The 10 U.S. states with the highest percentage of inbound moves and outbound moves in 2020 are included in the order below, with Idaho ranking as the study’s inbound leader for the fourth time since 2016. New York was the country’s outbound move leader in 2020, a designation it has now held two years in a row. The state also experienced its highest percentage of outbound moves since the study’s inception. Former balanced state Kentucky achieved an inbound status for the first time since 2010 while California earned an outbound status for the first time since 1995. Additionally, Minnesota and New Jersey saw the highest percentage of outbound moves since 2014 and 2009.

INBOUND:

  • Idaho (66.4 percent)
  • North Carolina (64.6 percent)
  • Maine (62.4 percent)
  • New Hampshire (61.6 percent)
  • Alabama (60.8 percent)
  • District of Columbia (60.2 percent)
  • New Mexico (60.0 percent)
  • Nevada (59.8 percent)
  • Alaska (58.6 percent)
  • Kentucky (57.7 percent)

OUTBOUND:

  • New York (66.4 percent)
  • Illinois (62.5 percent)
  • New Jersey (60.6 percent)
  • Louisiana (60.1 percent)
  • West Virignia (59.8 percent)
  • Nebraska (58.3 percent)
  • Minnesota (57.9 percent)
  • Indiana (57.8 percent)
  • California (57.1 percent)
  • Iowa (56.1 percent)

Other migration trends:

NORTHEAST U.S. REGION

The Northeast states experienced five significant changes from 2019 to 2020, with Pennsylvania moving from outbound to balance and Rhode Island moving from inbound to balanced. Maine and New Hampshire are the only Northeast states to be listed on the top inbound state list. Both of these states moved from balanced to inbound in conjunction with Connecticut in 2020. In addition to being 2020’s outbound move leader and experiencing its highest percentage of outbound moves in study history, New York has remained outbound for more than 20 years running.

SOUTH U.S. REGION

In 2020, the South region saw two changes from 2019. Virginia transitioned from balanced to inbound, a classification it last held in 2018, and Kentucky went from balanced to inbound, a classification it has not held since 2010. The South region housed four of the 10 leading inbound destinations in 2020 (North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, and Washington D.C).

MIDWEST U.S. REGION

The Midwest registered two changes in 2020, with Ohio shifting from balanced to outbound and South Dakota shifting from outbound to balanced, a classification it has not held since 2014. The Midwest region registered the most outbound states with Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa ranking in the top 10. For the fourth year in a row, the Midwest registered zero inbound states.

WEST U.S. REGION

For the fourth time in the last five years, Idaho led in inbound moves with nearly 67% of its moves entering the state in 2020. California classified as outbound for the first time since 1995 and Utah as inbound for the first time since 1995. The West region housed four of the leading inbound states for 2020 (Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada and Alaska).

How Status is Determined

Each state’s or province’s status is determined by its threshold value, which is the total number of shipments multiplied by 0.55 (i.e., in a state with 100 moves, at least 55 must be outgoing to be considered outbound). All other states or provinces in which outbound or inbound numbers don’t exceed the threshold are classified as balanced.

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