We have become an immobile nation. That’s not a condemnation of our lack of physical activity, but rather a comment on our growing inability and unwillingness to move from our current residences. Ironically at the same time we are becoming a far more digitally mobile nation (See earlier Monitor, Goin' Mo-bile), yet we are staying put and hunkering down into our current homes.
Recent data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of March 2011 paints a picture of the least amount of mobility since World War II, with only 11.6% of the nation’s population moving to a new home in the last year. As the Census data indicates, this is a dramatic decline over the past 25 years from the 80’s - during which almost 20% of the nation moved.
The reasons for the dramatic slowdown of our migration are fairly straightforward:
1. Homes are devalued and difficult to sell even at a deep discount.
The real estate collapse which drove down housing values is still prevalent throughout most of the United States.
2. Unemployment remains high throughout the U.S.
There’s no employment Mecca worthy of migration and so people stay put.
3. Young adults are still living at home after college, given the high rate of unemployment.
They have returned from college (many in debt), thankful to have a place to live and extended health insurance coverage from their parents until the age of 26.
4. The aging population is staying put and not retiring to Florida, Arizona, etc.
In fact, more than half of all Baby Boomers say they are unlikely to move somewhere new once they retire.
The downside of this lack of mobility is that the United States is the “land of opportunity” less than ever before…. and more Americans are merely coping with this reality by staying put and hoping for the best. From a marketing perspective this reinforces the needs for products and services which add value to the home (albeit in a modest cost manner) given that the average tenure in the current residence will undoubtedly be rising.
Our hope is that with a future economic upturn (slow in the making) the American citizens’ wanderlust may someday return. It may be a long time until this happens.