U-HAUL GROWTH INDEX: Californians Fleeing State In Record Numbers

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

For those not familiar (like myself) with the U-Haul Growth Index, it’s a simple, yet ingenious method in measuring migration trends around the country by calculating the rental of one-way U-Haul trucks traveling from one state to another.

A new report released on Monday revealed that California topped the 2021 list of individuals leaving the Golden State in record numbers. This is the second consecutive year that California was ranked 50th in the nation, according to the U-Haul one-way migration index.

The annual report determines both the growth and decline of population within a state by calculating the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving the state within the calendar year. California took the infamous prize with the largest net loss of one-way U-Haul trucks leaving the state in 2021, followed by Illinois ranked at 49th. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Alabama and New York all follow close behind.

Although California remained the top state for out-migration in 2021, it “wasn’t as severe as 2020.” According to analysts, this might be due to the fact that U-Haul “ran out of inventory to meet customer demand for outbound equipment“.

According to the 2020 Census, California’s sluggish population growth in the past decade caused the state to lose a congressional seat for the first time within the states history.

By contrast, the “Lone-Star” state took the top prize in 2021, with “arrivals making up 50.2% of all one-way U-Haul traffic”, followed closely by the “sunshine state”. The report also revealed that the 5-top states gaining additional population were all red states, with Tennessee, South Carolina, and Arizona joining Texas and Florida. Indiana, Colorado, Maine, Idaho and New Mexico help to round out the top 10 growth states of 2021.

Texas’s growth is statewide, with its biggest gains occurring in the suburbs around the DFW Metroplex area. Florida’s gains are equally widespread, with considerable growth south of Orlando and along both coastlines.

Overall moving traffic across Texas increased in 2021, as it did in most states. Arrivals of one-way U-Haul trucks jumped 19% while departures rose 18% over 2020.

The Texas economy is growing fast,” stated Kristina Ramos, president of the U-Haul Company of South Austin. “With a strong job market and low cost of living, it’s a no brainer. Texas doesn’t have an income tax, so families get more for their money.”

Matt Merrill, U-Haul Area district vice president of the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex and West Texas, also noted the population surge, stating, “We see a lot of growth coming from the East and West Coast.”

Merrill added, “A lot of people move here from California and New York. We also see a lot of people coming in from the Chicago markets. I think that’s a lot due to the job growth, a lot of opportunity here. The cost of living here is much lower than those areas. Texas is open for business.”

In the report, U-Haul noted that while the migration trends do not directly correlate to population growth, “the U-Haul Growth Index is an effective gauge of how well cities are both attracting and maintaining residents“.

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