Michigan Movers and Migrants

Earlier this month, three of the nation’s largest moving companies – United Van Lines, Allied Van Lines, and Atlas Van Lines – released their annual migration pattern studies. These studies, each based upon the origins and destinations of their respective clients in 2011, are often a leading indicator of looming economic and demographic trends. For Michigan, these three reports offered conflicting suggestions about the state of Michigan’s migration pattern. United identified Michigan as the state with the fourth greatest ratio of outbound to inbound moves. (That is, for every inbound trip, Michigan had more outbound trips than all but three other states.) By the same measure, Allied ranked Michigan third. However, Atlas found that Michigan made a stark reversal from previous years, and now had a better inbound percentage of trips (49%) than any other state in the Midwest.

What do these conflicting reports tell us? To determine how we should take this news, D3 aggregated the raw data from all three companies to produce a composite map drawing on the migration data from all three companies. The result: good news from Atlas was outweighed by bad news from Allied and United. The number of residents leaving Michigan outpaces the number of people moving to Michigan, although by much less than in 2008, 2009, or 2011.

Unsurprisingly, Michigan’s population continued its gradual decline in 2011. A net outmigration paired with a low birth rate spurred a population loss of 0.08% in 2011. However, given the mixed yet improving data from the moving companies and the Census Bureau, 2012 could see the reversal of this trend and a very slight population increase in Michigan.