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Robert Trigaux

Serious trend? More folks move out of Florida



Unitedvanlines Wake up, good morning and happy holidays: More evidence is pouring in that more people are starting to leave Florida than move there. As journalists and residents, we hear the "I'm fed up with Florida" comments anecdotally. We see it in recent Census Bureau data, which said over the 12 months ending July 1, Florida saw 9,300 more people leave than move here. Florida's population grew only because of births and immigration.

Now come fresher numbers from another source: moving companies. United Van Lines and Allied Van Lines, which track moves in and out of each state, confirm that through the  first 11 months of this year, more people are heading out of the Sunshine State than moving in. It's not a dramatic shift -- you know how these demographic changes take time -- but it may be significant. The data appear in a USA Today story in advance of the moving van companies releasing full-year data early in January.

So how did Florida fare? From January through November, United and Allied combined reported, out of a total of 33,458 moves involving Florida, that 48 percent of the shipments were inbound and 52 percent were outbound. Look at all the states' 11-month data here.

The moving companies do not consider a state a "high inbound" state until at least 55 percent of its moves are into rather than out of the state. Florida last qualified as "high inbound" in 2004 (see below).

So, is Florida in some kind of funk? Is a state economy based on growth in trouble? A "48-percent in/52-percent out" splits hardly sounds onerous, right? Or is the start of a nasty trend? Neighboring Georgia, for example, still has more people moving in (51 percent) than out (49 percent) -- maybe they're moving there from Florida. Alabama has a lot more folks arriving (55 percent) than leaving (45 percent). Big states like California? An even split at 50-50. Texas is like Alabama: 55 in, 45 out. Says the USA Today story:

* Atlas for the first time handled more household moves out of Florida than in. Inbound shipments started to drop after several hurricanes hit the state in 2004 and 2005. The housing meltdown followed two years later.

"Some people are moving out because they can't support the 'second housing' option," says Drew Klacik, policy analyst for Indiana University Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. "A lot of us who want to avoid the ice in Indiana and move to Florida, can't. It's harder and harder for people to sell their homes."

We get that. But we also know a lot of neighbors are trying to sell their Florida homes in a terrible housing market and move to another state as well. And many of us are simply hunkered down in a nasty recession and stun-gunned stock market trying to keep our jobs and rebuild some savings.

Let's look back a few years at the household moving trends in and out of Florida. If we've gone negative (52 percent leaving, 48 percent arriving here), how does this compare to earlier years? According to United Van Lines studies:

* For the full year 2007, 49.9 percent of shipments were outbound, 51.1 percent were inbound. So Florida essentially was flat in '07.

* For the full year 2006, 51.2 percent were outbound and 48.8 percent were inbound. That's a net loss and similar to the latest 2008 split.

* For the full year 2005, just 45.8 percent were outbound and 54.2 percent were inbound. But, United Van Lines noted at the time: "While Florida (54.2%) has been inbound since the survey commenced, this year marked the lowest number of relocations to the state since 2000."

* For the full year 2004, only 40.1 percent were outbound and 59.9 percent were inbound. "Florida saw its highest inbound percentage since 1988," United said.

* For the full year 2003, 40.4 percent were outbound while 59.6 percent were inbound. "The best in 12 years," said United.

So what does it all mean? It sure feels the heyday era of Florida's population boom is on hiatus, at least until the economy revives a bit. But is there a longer-term, deeper warning in these numbers? It may well depend on whether the perception of "quality of life" in Florida can improve, whether Florida's still-rocky housing market can find a bottom soon and whether we can avoid any nasty hurricane hits for awhile.

(Photo credit:

-- Robert  Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:23am]


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