By: Emily Harris
When I look around at my coworkers and friends, it seems that I can only count a few that are actually born and raised in Utah. This is interesting because the data indicate that the majority of the population does not move. There is a small subset of the population that does move for a number of reasons: employment change, marriage, independence, college, cheaper or better housing, the list goes on and on. There may also be a few things that falsely inflate my personal perception of Utah’s highly mobile population:
- I am in my late 20s, considered one of the most highly mobile ages over the course of one’s life, so my similarly aged friends are a large proportion of total migrants.
- I work at the University of Utah, a competitive place of employment attracting people from all over the country and world.
- Utah’s low unemployment rates mean that businesses are hiring from outside the state.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary program impacts Utah’s migration patterns, and many return back to Utah after their mission.
The Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS) just released new mobility and migration data for the nation, regions, and states that is helpful in understanding the demographics of those that migrated.
National and Regional Trends
Over the last year, approximately 90% of the population 16 years and older did not migrate anywhere. Of the 10% who did move, 81% stayed in the same state and 60% stayed in the same county. Only 15% of movers relocated to a different state, and a mere 4% moved from abroad.[i]
The CPS breaks the nation into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. The West ranks first in migration with 11% of their 16+ population having moved within the last year, the Midwest and South are tied with 10%, and the Northeast is last with migrants accounting for only 7% of their 16 + population. Data shows that western movers are more likely than western non-movers to be employed (67% compared to 59%). Additionally, western migrants ages 25 and older have a greater share of bachelor’s degrees or higher compared to western non-movers. [ii]
Utah’s Migration Trends
Utah has been experiencing strong growth and net in-migration over the last few years. The ACS data estimated that 17.1% of the population moved within the last year, a higher percentage than both the nation and the western region. [iii] Below, we can see the breakdown of Utahns’ migration patterns between 2016 and 2017.
Migration Status in Utah within the Last Year
Source: 2017 American Community Survey: Table 1. State-to-State Migration Flows
You can see most Utahns did not move (82.9%), and 76% of total in-migration happens within Utah (13% of total population), whether that’s between counties, between cities, or one block away. These percentages translate to 523,335 people that moved to or within Utah last year. Of that, only 99,584 moved to Utah from a different state. This number may seem like a lot, but that is only 19% of total migration in Utah, and only 3.3% of the entire Utah population (at least one year old). The states that contributed the largest share of in-migration were California (17.1%), Arizona (8.2%), Idaho (6.8%), Texas (6.6%), and Nevada (6%).[iv]
This newly released migration data and analysis only scratches the surface. Every state has different migration patterns for different economic and demographic reasons. Utah and the western region are rapidly growing, and as fertility declines, migration is becoming a large part of that growth.
Emily Harris is a demographic analyst at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
[i] Current Population Survey, Table 2. General Mobility of Persons 16 Years and Over, by Labor Force Status, Sex, Age, Race and Hispanic Origin, and Region: 2017 to 2018
[ii] Current Population Survey, Table 2. General Mobility of Persons 16 Years and Over, by Labor Force Status, Sex, Age, Race and Hispanic Origin, and Region: 2017 to 2018
[iii] U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey: Table 1. State-to-State Migration Flows
[iv] U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey: Table 1. State-to-State Migration Flows