Population Mobility Snapshot

Courtesy Mortgage Bankers Association

American adults have been moving less and less frequently over the last two decades. As of March 2015, just 11 percent of Americans over the age of 17 moved in the prior year, down from nearly  16 percent 20 years prior. Although recessionary periods (shaded in grey in the chart below) have many impacts on household behavior, they cannot solely account for the slow down in the rate at which adults change residence. 

The slow down is puzzling in a number of dimensions and may have real economic consequences, in the following sense. If households are moving less, then they may not be finding the best job and housing opportunities. This is especially curious during the economic recovery over the last six years since we would expect adults to move in search of new and better jobs after the dislocations of the economic crisis. Further, the composition of the population or its age does not explain the decline in mobility. 

Breaking this down into households who own and rent, we find that renter household mobility continues to fall (through March of 2015) while homeowner mobiliity has stabilized and begun to increase a bit. Homeowner mobility has important implications for the “housing ladder” through which young and first time home buyers buy the homes of those who “move up” into better or different housing.


Mortgage Bankers Association