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California’s Moving Migration Balancing Act

On the first day of the new year, Atlas Van Lines released the migration data for the interstate and inter-province moves it handled during 2014. The company provides this report every year, and the findings offer a big-picture view of move activity throughout the U.S. and Canada.

CA Last 10 Years Migration PatternsWhat happened here in the Golden State? During 2014, Atlas handled 13,967 moves that either originated from or terminated in California. We led the nation in move activity, followed by Texas (13,137 moves) and Florida (10,226 moves). Texas, however, holds the distinction of the most moves into a state (7,801). Conversely, California claims bragging rights for the most moves out of any state.

You can see how the spin doctors work with numbers such as these. For example, you might hear: “More families moved out of California last year than out of any other state.” Technically, that statement is correct. But it needs context for any real insight. While it’s true more families moved out of California than any other state, we still saw a net gain of families moving in.

However, the difference between the number of moves in and out of California was not significant. So, we are considered “balanced.”  Atlas classifies each state and province as outbound, inbound, or balanced.  This depends on the ratio of moves in versus moves out.  If more than 55 percent of moves are inbound (or outbound), the state is considered inbound (or outbound). All other moves are considered balanced.

California has been balanced for 17 of the last 20 years. Our only deviations were as an inbound state (1999-2000) and once as outbound (1995). I would like to point out that, since 2007, our balanced status has been tipped toward inbound. With the exception of 1995 and the years 2002-2006, we’ve seen a net gain of moves in for each of the last 20 years. 

You can find the Atlas migration patterns map here. It includes data for all the states and provinces, as well as an analysis and commentary. You’ll also see 10 years of historical data and an archive of past migration maps, each with 10 years of data.

Have fun looking at the data, but remember to keep things in context. (And take what the spin doctors say at face value.)

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