Sigh-worthy moving statistics

Sigh-worthy moving statistics

There are many ways in which the economic health of a city, region and state can be measured. But here’s one you might not have thought of until now.

As Philadelphia Business Journal digital producer Ryan Mulligan reported last week, U-Haul’s Growth Index suggests that more people “were on their way out of Pennsylvania in 2021 than almost any other state.”

The Keystone State ranked 48th on the moving company’s index, “which tracks how many one-way U-Haul trucks are leaving a state opposed to those entering one.”

A separate report, from United Van Lines National Movers, ranked Pennsylvania 37th; 53 percent of relocation shipments were tracked to be leaving the commonwealth, Mulligan reports.

United Van Lines “calculates growth by finding the percentage of moving shipments that are either inbound or outbound in a given state,” he says.

U-Haul tracks growth by compiling data from more than 2 million one-way trips of self-movers, either entering or leaving a state.

It’s “an effective gauge of how well cities are both attracting and maintaining residents,” the business reporter quotes U-Haul as saying.

Now, some will quibble with such a data set being used to establish such an ironclad conclusion. After all, there are myriad variables in play here. To name one, perhaps a cohort of the outbound and inbound one-way movers are simply moving stuff and not their domiciles.

But that said, and in general, the data jibe with reality – folks are leaving the Keystone State.

But where are they going? Well, at least based on 2019 data (the most recent available), count us among those somewhat surprised, given the lay of the employment land, so to speak, in the moved-to states.

As reported in September – based on data compiled for that year by — 13.6 percent (or nearly 35,000) of all Pennsylvania residents moving in 2019 went to Florida.

No real surprise there. Warmer. A more inviting tax climate. Right-to-Work, etc. But …

“Next on the list is New York, which was chosen by 22,641 people for a new home. New Jersey came in third place, with 22,445 people,” Vista.Today’s Dan Weckerly reported.

“Ohio was fourth with 16,792 people; Maryland placed fifth, with 14,376.

“North Carolina, California, Virginia, Texas, and Delaware rounded out the Top 10.”

Again, Florida is a right-to-work state (meaning your employment cannot be proscribed by your refusal to join a labor union). But New York is not a right-to-work state. Neither is New Jersey. Nor Ohio. Delaware? No. California. Uh-uh (of course).

North Carolina, Virginia and Texas are right-to-work states. Maryland does not have an explicit right-to-work law on the books but is considered to be a de facto right-to-work state based on its labor and employment code.

Pennsylvania is not a right-to-work state, either. However, a majority of the states do have right-to-work laws.

But that so many Pennsylvanians would move to New York State, long a bastion of liberalism (and not in the classical sense), and New Jersey, well… Really?

Other details from the Philadelphia Business Journal report:

Pennsylvania fell seven spots from No. 41 in 2020 in U-Haul’s study.

“The No. 48 ranking was previously held by New Jersey, but the Garden State moved up to No. 36 in 2021,” Mulligan writes. “The only two states that saw a bigger net loss than Pennsylvania were Illinois and California, which held spots No. 49 and No. 50, respectively, for the second consecutive year.”

Additionally, Pennsylvania saw higher U-Haul traffic both in and out of the state this year; incoming trucks rose 4 percent over a year ago but departing trucks also increased by 6 percent, the business journal found.

“Some towns and cities in Pennsylvania didn’t fall in line with the statewide trend, however,” Mulligan reported. “Philadelphia and Harrisburg were the state’s top growth cities.”

Both, as is Pittsburgh, are bastions of rabid government-knows-best liberalism.


Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (