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Friday, August 19, 2022

Have More People Moved During the Pandemic?

While the proportion of Americans who pass each year has been declining for several decades, the onset of the epidemic seemed to exacerbate this trend. Media stories and blogs have painted a picture of people moving en masse to suburbs, rural areas and small resort towns, with significant impacts on local housing markets. But how many Americans actually went through? And how many moves were fixed? Answering these questions is challenging because typical data sets of public surveys, such as the American Community Survey, have a time lag. However, address change requests submitted to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) indicate that while an unusual number of people did pass at the beginning of the epidemic and again at the end of 2020, there has been no significant change from previous years in the total number of moves since the epidemic began. , The data show significant increases in the number of people who moved house but a decrease in the number of families who moved.

Anyone can set up mail transfer by requesting a change of address with USPS, which has recently started reporting anonymous data of these requests. The resulting array of data reveals how many people have moved to and from different zip codes, but does not provide pairings that will link sources and destinations. (USPS has restricted access to their pairing data, but Prominent surgeries It can be Found online.) When applying for a change of address, people must choose whether they are applying to an individual, family or business, and whether this transition is permanent or temporary (also called seasonal transition). Requesting a change of address is not mandatory, and people may not request a change when they move or they may request a change for reasons other than moving house, so the data does not represent a perfect reflection of residential mobility. However, for convenience of reference, I will treat these change requests as moves.

In both 2018 and 2019, there were 2-3 million temporary moves, and 31-33 million permanent moves (including private, family and business moves) according to USPS data. Despite sporadic increases, moves have remained in this typical range since the onset of the plague. There were 31.74 million regular moves in 2019, which increased by one percent to 31.96 million moves in 2020. There were 26 million regular moves from January to October 2021 (the latest data available), which is about 800,000 less moves than in 2020 the same range in 2019 and also in 2020. The largest increases in the regular moves during the epidemic were in March 2020 and December 2020, both with about 300,000 additional moves, representing an increase of 12 and 14 percent over a year earlier, respectively (Figure 1). It is probably no coincidence that these increases are consistent with the onset of the plague and the first increase in winter in the Corona cases.

Figure 1. Regular moves were recorded during the outbreak and the first winter wave of the plague

Comments: Includes private, family and business moves marked as ‘permanent’ during a change of address request. National trends were calculated by accumulating ‘moves’ from each target provided. The ‘transition from’ and ‘transition to’ trends are similar, with the transition amounts from ‘m’ being slightly higher due to data suppression.

Source: USPS JCHS tables, address change data.

There was a similar jump in the temporary moves in early 2020, and trends remained high for the rest of the year. In March and April 2020, there were 224,000 and 86,000 moves more than a year earlier, representing increases of 188 percent (a high percentage due to the typically low number of temporary moves per month) and 36 percent, respectively. In total, in 2020 there were about 446,000 more temporary moves than in 2019, an increase of about 18 percent, although the monthly trend was indeed due to pre-epidemic patterns after April. These patterns continued in the first ten months of 2021, when there were only 3 percent more temporary moves than in the same range in 2019 (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Temporary moves rose early in the epidemic and remained high until mid-2021

This chart shows monthly temporary moves in 2019, 2020 and January-October 2021. It shows that the moves went up in March and April 2020 before returning to the 2019 trends at slightly higher levels.

Comments: Includes personal, family and business moves marked as ‘temporary’ during the change of address request. National trends were calculated by accumulating ‘moves’ from each target provided. The ‘transition from’ and ‘transition to’ trends are similar, with the transition amounts from ‘m’ being slightly higher due to data suppression.

Source: USPS JCHS tables, address change data.

Because of the structure of the data from the USPS, even the permanent and temporary transition count contains personal, family and business moves, and these types cannot be broken down. Also, the available data on private, family and business moves cannot be divided by fixed or temporary moves. However, I can say that most of the requests for a change of address are for individuals (23 million in 2019; 67 percent of the total year), followed by families (10 million in 2019; 30 percent), followed by businesses (900,000 in 2019; 3 percent) . The business moves did indeed rise to 90,000 in March 2020, so businesses are partly responsible for the said increases in the moves, but they are still a minority of those increases.

What is particularly interesting for housing is that while personal moves went up at key points in the epidemic, family moves went down. There were nearly 400,000 more single moves in March 2020, 250,000 more moves in April 2020, and 250,000 more moves in December 2020 compared to those months in 2019. These were increases of 22%, 14% and 16%, respectively. Overall personal moves were 5 percent higher in 2020 than in 2019 (Figure 3). Individual moves remained high in early 2021 before falling, with 19.27 million moves in January-October 2021, almost identical to the total number (19.30 million) for the same range in 2019.

Figure 3. Individual moves were raised during the plague

: This chart shows individual monthly moves in 2019, 2020 and January-October 2021. It shows that the moves were higher in March-April 2020, December 2020, January 2021 and March 2021, but other than that they were at similar or lower levels than in 2019.

Notes: Includes requests for permanent and temporary change of address for individual crossings. National trends were calculated by accumulating ‘moves’ from each target provided. The ‘transition from’ and ‘transition to’ trends are similar, with the transition amounts from ‘m’ being slightly higher due to data suppression.

Source: USPS JCHS tables, address change data.

Meanwhile, family moves rose slightly in March 2020 by 40,000, a five percent increase from March 2019, before falling below previous year levels. In April and May 2020, there were 140,000 (16 percent) and 226,000 (23 percent) fewer family transfers than in April and May 2019, respectively. Total family transfers in 2020 were 7 percent lower than in 2019, and in the first ten months of 2021 there were 10 percent fewer family transfers than in the same period in 2019 (Figure 4). One possible explanation is that people who were able to move as individuals had more flexibility during the epidemic and reacted in packing their luggage, while people who moved as a family were less able to do so and reacted with contraction (including, perhaps, the high number of households which Refinance their mortgages).

Figure 4. Family moves fell after the outbreak of the plague and remained at lower levels

This chart shows the monthly family moves in 2019, 2020 and January-October 2021. It shows that the moves were slightly higher in March 2020 than in 2019, but then dropped to much lower levels, except for December 2020. Family moves in 2021 were low From 2019 every month.

Comments: Includes requests for permanent and temporary change of address for family relocation. National trends were calculated by accumulating ‘moves’ from each target provided. The ‘transition from’ and ‘transition to’ trends are similar, with the transition amounts from ‘m’ being slightly higher due to data suppression.

Source: USPS JCHS tables, address change data.

These findings suggest that there were increases in mobility during the epidemic, consistent with the popular narratives created in the early months, and show that these increases were mostly among individuals and often temporary in nature. Indeed, out of the additional 660,000 moves in 2020 compared to 2019, 440,000 were temporary moves. There is also evidence that moves during the plague had major impacts on places, from housing markets to school enrollment. In addition, the timing of mobile increases during corona virus increases suggests that the carriers behind them may have fled high-risk areas, moved in with family, or even reacted to housing insecurity. The ‘stickiness’ of pre-epidemic trends, however, proves that mobility is a multifaceted behavior that responds to a host of different factors – of which the emerging epidemic in the world is just one of them.

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