Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A New Low in Geographic Mobility in 2020: 9.3%

There has been a lot of talk about the numbers of people who have moved because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Pew Research Center survey fielded in June, a substantial 22 percent of adults had relocated because of the pandemic or knew someone who had. An Upwork survey fielded in October found 14 to 23 million workers planning to move because remote work gave them the opportunity to live anywhere they choose. Those moves will boost migration in the United States, Upwork said.  

Nice try, but no cigar. Yesterday the Census Bureau released the official numbers on geographic mobility in 2020. The data are collected by the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). The survey asks respondents, "Were you living in this house or apartment one year ago?" Only 9.3 percent said no—a record low geographic mobility rate.  

Percent of people aged 1 or older who lived in a different house or apartment one year ago
2019–20: 9.3% (record low)

2018–19: 9.8%

2017–18: 10.1%

2010–11: 11.6%

2000–01: 14.2%

There are a couple of reasons why the CPS ASEC did not capture coronavirus-related moves. One reason is timing. The Census Bureau fields the ASEC in March of each year. Perhaps March was too early in the pandemic to capture those moves. The second reason is response rates. In the turmoil during the early weeks of the pandemic, response rates to the March 2020 CPS were abnormally low, according to Census Bureau research. Pandemic movers may have been (almost certainly were) less likely to respond to the survey than those who stayed put. 

For whatever the reason, the geographic mobility figures from the 2020 CPS do not shed any light on pandemic-related moves. This time next year, the 2021 geographic mobility data will be released. Perhaps they will show the anticipated uptick in migration...unless all the pandemic movers return to their pre-pandemic homes by March 2021.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility, 2019 to 2020

No comments: