A Look Into Migration Trends Across the U.S.

Migration has always been a cornerstone of the housing market. Moving, whether it be across state lines or immigrating to the U.S. from another country, is what gives REALTORS® a significant amount of their business.

Evaluating migration trends can keep agents ahead of the curve, setting them on the path to grow their business by connecting with those moving or immigrating into their local area.  

To learn more about these trends, the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ (JCHS) 2024 State of the Nation’s Housing report analyzed various facets of housing data in recent years. More specifically, the study’s migration map reveals useful data for REALTORS® to help evaluate and target their business in the moving sector.

A look at immigration

JCHS found that immigration levels grew vastly in both 2022 and 2023. The organization’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data found that net international migration jumped from less than 500,000 in 2019 to 2.6 million in 2022 and 3.3 million in 2023. 

Diving a little deeper, the study found that 35% of immigrants aged 18 to 64 who arrived within the previous five years headed a household in 2022. While this is a high rate, it is below the 41% of same-aged immigrants who arrived earlier (between 2012 and 2016) and the 47% of the native-born population in this age group. 

The entire U.S. experienced immigration gains, according to the study’s migration map. The highest rates of growth were found in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Utah, Washington and California. Generally, most of these states are known to be friendlier to immigrants in their politics and general resident culture. Florida especially is a haven for immigrants from Cuba and South America, which Miami is known for. Texas is also highly known for Mexican immigrants due to its proximity to the border and its policies.

The lowest rates of growth were in New Hampshire, West Virginia, Montana and Wyoming—states known to be less friendly to immigration than others across the U.S.

“The surge in immigration comes as natural population growth (births minus deaths) is slowing. That said, the full impact on the housing markets of recently arrived immigrants has not yet been realized,” the study states. “Many do not have legal status or work authorizations, severely limiting their earning potential and housing options.”

Diving deeper into domestic migration trends 

JCHS’ data found that the U.S. is split nearly 50/50 when it comes to losses and gains in domestic migration patterns. 

Overall, domestic migration has decreased across the U.S. The JCHS report found from evaluating the Current Population Survey (CPS) that the homeowner mobility rate fell a full percentage point, from 4.6% in 2022 to 3.6% in 2023, the lowest rate in the past 40 years.

“Faced with high interest rates, homeowners with below-market mortgage rates were disincentivized to sell,” the study states. “At the same time, many potential buyers were stymied by either the high cost of homeownership or the limited supply of homes for sale. The result was a population with fewer choices or incentives to relocate.”

The highest migration gains were in Delaware, Maine, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The South dominates when it comes to gains, claiming seven of the 14 spots, which tracks with the region’s cheaper housing prices and appealing cost of living. The Midwest, which claims three spots, also boasts similar appeal when it comes to attracting movers.

On the other end of the spectrum, the largest losses were in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Louisiana, California, Alaska and Hawaii. While largely scattered across regions, several of these states—specifically New York, California, Maryland and Massachusetts—are known for a heftier cost of living and price of housing, which would explain a larger exodus of population. Moving out of large, overpopulated cities in these states may also be contributing to the larger rates of exodus.

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