New data from movers shows Michigan losing population

A line of U-Haul parked vans. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A line of U-Haul parked vans. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Michigan lost the sixth-most percentage of people in 2021, according to the 45th annual National Movers Study from United Van Lines, released this week.

The study indicated Americans were moving to lower-density areas to be closer to their families throughout the last year.

Vermont was the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration while New Jersey was top in outbound moving, seeing 71% of movers move out of state, holding the top spot for outbound population each of the past four years.

Illinois saw 67% of movers move out of the state, while New York saw 63%, Connecticut 60% and California 59%, which have all regularly appeared on the top outbound list. Michigan was sixth with 57.7% of movers outbound.

This year's study results indicated 31.8% of Americans who moved did so in order to be closer to family, a new trend emerging from the pandemic as priorities and lifestyle choices shift. An additional 32.5% of Americans moved for a new job or job transfer, a decrease from 2015 when more than 60% of Americans cited a job or transfer as the reason for moving.

"This new data is indicative of COVID-19's impact on domestic migration patterns, with 2021 bringing an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities," Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "We're seeing this not only occur because of Americans' desire to leave high-density areas due to risk of infection, but also due to the transformation of how we're able to work, with more flexibility to work remote."

Of the top 10 inbound states, six, including Vermont, South Dakota, West Virginia, Alabama, Oregon and Idaho, were among the 20 least densely populated states in America and Tennessee and South Carolina, also in the top 10, were among the top 25 least densely populated.

Among the top 10 outbound states for 2021, nine, including Illinois and Michigan, were considered densely populated.

Also released Monday was U-Haul's annual Growth Index, which showed that migration to southern states continues to be expedited by the pandemic, as Texas saw the largest increase of U-Haul customers in 2021.

Growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from well over 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually.

Michigan was 42nd on the list in terms of growth, indicating larger net losses than in 2020, when the state ranked 40th in growth.

Texas was number one from 2016-2018 and was second in both 2019 and 2020.