How many Americans actually moved during the pandemic?

USPS data reveals how many people moved, and where they went

TRD NATIONAL /
Oct.October 13, 2020 08:00 AM
Change of address data from the United States Postal Service reveals that 15.9 million people moved between February and July this year. (iStock)

Change of address data from the United States Postal Service reveals that 15.9 million people moved between February and July this year. (iStock)

How many people actually moved because of the pandemic? Though it’s hard to know movers’ exact motivations, new data reveals migration patterns during the height of Covid-19 lockdowns in most states.

Change of address data from the United States Postal Service reveals that 15.9 million people moved between February and July this year, according to MyMove, a platform that provides information for people who are relocating. MyMove analyzed data from both USPS and a Pew Research Center survey of 10,000 U.S. adults that was conducted in July.

Whether the newly relocated will stay in their new homes is less clear: The number of people who permanently moved was up by just 4 percent from the same period in 2019, while temporary moves rose by a more substantial 27 percent. Those temporary moves spiked in March and April, suggesting that people decided to be with family or relocated to a second home during the lockdowns.

“About a quarter (28%) told us [they chose to move] because they feared getting Covid-19 if they stayed where they were living,” said D’Vera Cohn, who authored the Pew survey. “About a fifth (20%) said they wanted to be with their family, or their college campus closed (23%). A total of 18% gave financial reasons, including job loss.”

The USPS data also showed that many people who moved left densely populated urban areas in favor of less-densely populated areas.

Manhattan saw the biggest increase in moves, with 110,978 people departing — a 500 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019. Brooklyn followed, losing 43,006 people during the same time period. Residents of Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Naples, Florida, Washington, D.C. and Houston also saw large drops in population during that period.

While it remains to be seen if the urban-to-suburban exodus will be a long-term thing, USPS data shows that many city dwellers did relocate to smaller, less urban areas. Two suburbs of Houston — Katy and Richmond — gained 4,400 and 3,000 new residents, respectively.

East Hampton, New York, also saw an influx of nearly 2,500 residents. In March, as government-mandated lockdowns set in, real estate brokers in the Hamptons said that a run on pricey rentals led to bidding wars for some properties.

The exodus from Manhattan led to a historic vacancy rate of 5 percent in September after setting a new record for each of the four preceding months.

If the vacancy rate stays that high, it could potentially lead to the repeal of the city’s rent regulations, which depends on a vacancy rate below 5 percent. That threshold, however, is set by legislators, and a new Housing & Vacancy Survey is not scheduled to be conducted until 2022.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Bozeman, Montana

Montana’s real estate market shows no signs of cooling heading into winter

Montana’s real estate market shows no signs of cooling heading into winter
An aerial view of a pop-up drive-in theater built in the parking lot at the Broadway Commons in Hicksville, New York (Getty)

Covid pummeled shopping centers, but their parking lots are thriving

Covid pummeled shopping centers, but their parking lots are thriving
French buyers are gobbling up prime London real estate

French buyers are gobbling up prime London real estate

French buyers are gobbling up prime London real estate
The number of mortgage borrowers in Covid-19 forbearance plans ticked down again this week. (iStock)

3M homeowners remain in forbearance

3M homeowners remain in forbearance
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Lucerne Hotel at  201 West 79th Street (Getty; iStock; Google Maps)

Lawsuit blasts NYC’s “capricious” Covid-19 homeless response

Lawsuit blasts NYC’s “capricious” Covid-19 homeless response
Gap CEO Sonia Syngal (Getty)

Gap Inc. will close 350 stores and exit malls entirely

Gap Inc. will close 350 stores and exit malls entirely
(iStock)

Dead weight: A breakdown of NYC’s rental listing glut

Dead weight: A breakdown of NYC’s rental listing glut
(Getty)

Manhattan rents fall below $3,000 for first time since 2011

Manhattan rents fall below $3,000 for first time since 2011
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...