American mobility at historic low and not changing soon

People are staying in place longer and fewer are moving

The U.S. Census Bureau’s current population survey released on Tuesday shows that mobility is flat – at the same low level of 11.7% as the year before.

This comes despite the common assumption about those demographic darlings in the under-35 age range.

Just over one in 10 Americans moved in the year ending March 2014, unchanged from the year ending March 2013.

Click to enlarge

Chart: Trulia

Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia (TRLA) said that at this rate, the typical American stays put eight and a half years between moves.

“Remember the old rule of thumb that people move every seven years? Well, that was true until around 2003. In fact, the mobility rate has been falling for decades, as we pointed out in this post last year,” Kolko says.

He notes that 50 and 60 years ago, Americans moved every five years on average. By the year 2000 that was changing to every seven years, and that average is growing.

In today’s post, Kolko walks through the 2014 data to highlight the most recent mobility trends.

Click to enlarge

Chart: Trulia

“With the percentage of Americans moving stuck at 11.7% in 2014, mobility remains near the all-time low of 11.6% in 2011. That’s considerably below the 14% rate from the early 2000s,” Kolko writes. “The housing bust and recession offer possible explanations why people are stuck in place – things like negative home equity and few job opportunities to move for.”

Mobility also declined both before and during the housing bubble, he says.

Furthermore, mobility has barely budged since 2011 despite a significant drop in the percentage of borrowers with negative equity and a modest recovery in the job market.

To read the full report, click here.

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