Great Recession Kept Us Local

November 18, 2013

Though it has been one of the most rapid displacements in recent history, the Great Recession did not cause most Americans to move very far from home.

At the height of the recession, only about 10.5 million people moved outside their counties, according to the Census Bureau. That's the lowest proportion since the bureau started tracking the number in 1947. Those displaced by foreclosures tended to move within home towns and cities. In 2010, the number of local moves increased to the highest level in a decade—24.2 million, according to a study by Michael Stoll, professor of public policy at UCLA.

Part of the reason this shift affected the population differently is because the economic downturn was so widespread. While the mass migrations caused by the Dustbowl of the 1930s offered migrants respite from their economic woes in the form of better environmental conditions, the recession followed people wherever they went.

"Paying the costs to move [across regions] without a guarantee of employment just doesn't make sense," says Stoll. "There was no good place to move to, and some reason to stay." Stoll's study also found that nearly a quarter of those who moved locally did so in order to find cheaper housing.

Source: Lose it and move it: Displaced Americans move locally, Nov. 12, 2013,

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