The number of Americans who moved hit an all-time low in 2020-21, according to data from the Census Bureau.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t alter overall migration trends — cities lost people, suburbs gained people — but it did mute them.
The Pew Research Center says:
Only 8% of Americans – 26.5 million people – moved from one U.S. home to another between March 2020 and March 2021, according to data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. The 2020 rate and number were the lowest since the federal government began reporting data in 1948.
The decline in U.S. domestic migration had an impact on all types of communities – cities, suburbs and rural areas, according to a Pew Research Center analysis that compared data for movers in 2020 with data for movers in 2016-2018.
The pandemic year of 2020 continued the same pre-pandemic pattern of net migration gain or loss for cities and suburban areas. More people moved out of U.S. cities than moved into them, while suburbs had more people moving in from other U.S. communities than out. The net flow for rural areas did not indicate strong movement in either direction in 2016-2018, while more people moved out of rural areas than moved into them in 2020.
In 2020, fewer people moved out of cities than in the pre-pandemic years, according to the census data. Overall, 4.9 million Americans left cities for suburbs or rural areas, compared with an annual average of 5.4 million who did so before the pandemic. An additional 2.9 million moved into cities from suburbs or rural areas in 2020, compared with an annual average of 3.1 million for 2016-2018.