Skip to main content

Economic Perspective: States People Liked to Move to in 2019

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at what states people liked in 2019. Mike, the U.S. is a big country which means people have numerous choices for where they live. People exercise this choice by sometimes moving from one state to another. Each year we can look at data for how many people moved in versus how many people moved out to gauge the popularity of states. What did the data show for 2019, particularly for North Carolina?”


“Well, we’re going to get more of this data as 2020 rolls on, but we have an initial look at this question from United Van Lines. Obviously United Van Lines moves people around the country, and the just released their data for 2019. And what they looked at was simply the number of people moving into a state versus the number of people that moved out of the state, and then they take that as a percentage of the state population to get a rate.”

“They found for 2019, again based on their data, North Carolina was the ninth most popular state in terms of it’s excess of people moving into North Carolina versus people moving out. And this is not unusual. North Carolina has been in the top-ten of popular states to move to for many, many years. Now if you look at other states in the southeast, North Carolina’s popularity was only beaten by South Carolina which ranked eighth and Florida which ranked seventh.”

“Now if you look around the country, and you ask what was the most popular state people moved to in 2019 here’s a surprise, at least for me. The number one state was Vermont. The number two state was Idaho. I think what’s going on there with both of those states may be people who live next door. In the case of Vermont, New York and New Jersey. In the case of Idaho, California and maybe some of the folks in those bigger states moving to a smaller state.”

“At the opposite end of the spectrum, the least attractive state for people to move to, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it was in 2019 New Jersey. The second least popular, attractive state to move to was Illinois.”

Mike Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.