Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Happened to American Get Up and Go?

According to data recently released by the Census Bureau, the mobility rate in America is at an all-time low.  On explanation for this is the recent recession; unable to find work many millennials remain trapped in their parents' basements.  But the recession narrative ignores that mobility has been on the decline for 60 years.  What gives?  Emily Badger is on the case:

So what's been going on here? And should we (if not the U-Haul industry) be concerned? Physical mobility, after all, can cut both ways: For some populations, high mobility reflects choice, for others instability. Low mobility, likewise, may mean that people are content with where they are, or, conversely, that they're stuck in homes they can't unload.

For one thing, that decades-long decline reflects the long-term rise of homeownership in America. Homeowners move less often than renters. And considerably more of us are homeowners now than in 1948 (although that trend has begun to turn since the housing bust). In 1940, the U.S. homeownership rate was 44 percent. Today, it's 65 percent.

But a greater trend is at work too: the U.S. population is now rapidly aging, and an aging population moves left often, too (both by choice and necessity). That means that even as homeownership starts to tick down, and as Millennials start to find jobs and homes of their own, this decline will likely continue.



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