Are Americans Stuck in Place? Declining Residential Mobility in the US

Riordan Frost

In the 1980s, nearly one in five Americans moved every year. About one in ten Americans moved between 2018 and 2019. Residential mobility rates have been falling for decades, representing a cross-generational shift, with declines particularly steep among young adults and for local moves. The reasons behind this long-term decline are unclear but have been linked to various factors, including demographic change, housing affordability, and labor. This brief discusses the state of residential mobility today, focusing on domestic mobility between and within states, and reviews historical trends in this behavior. It then examines the motivations behind domestic mobility and briefly explores the possible reasons for the long-term, secular decline.