Blog Post

Insight: Migration

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 o