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January 29th, 2009
05:36 PM ET

America on the move

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

Dorothy clicked her heels and repeated: “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Even in her dream state, Dorothy knew where to find home; with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry on their farm in Kansas.

Home is where the heart is... or is it?

As part of a survey done in October, the Pew Research Center asked 2,260 adults to define “home.”

Before you continue reading, how you would answer that question? (We'd love to know–please tell us by posting a comment.)

Of those who responded, 26 percent said home is where they were born or raised, 22 percent where they live now, 18 percent where they have lived the longest, 15 percent where their family comes from and 4 percent where they went to high school.

For those wondering if America remains a “melting pot,” the majority of foreign-born adults in the survey said the United States was home, not their country of birth.

Click here to tell us how you define home.

Back in 1939, when the “Wizard of Oz” was released, there were 150 million Americans, slightly less than half of today’s population.

The geographic center of the nation's population then was near Carlisle, Indiana; now it’s more than 300 miles to the west in Phelps County, Missouri.

If Dorothy returned today, she might wonder what happened to the neighbors down the road.

Back in 1940, 58 percent of Kansans lived in rural areas, though that population already was waning.

By 2000, 71 percent of Kansans lived in urban areas, at a steadily increasing rate.

Nationally, the American population was 56.5 percent urban in 1940, today it’s 80 percent.

Americans remain willing to put down new roots elsewhere, though the pace has slowed. Some 34 million people moved between 2007 and 2008, the fewest since 1982-83.

United Van Lines also finds fewer people changing address. It handled more than 212,000 shipments in 2007, but just 199,000 last year.

The mover asks its customers why they’re moving. Nearly two-thirds said that they moved in 2008 because of a work change; about 20 percent for retirement and almost 14 percent for health or other personal reasons.

Have you moved in the past year? If so, from where to where and why? Click here.

The moving company’s data show where rubber meets the road – literally, as in packing up and heading out.

United Van Line’s statistics cover the lower 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii are considered international moves). Within those numbers are glimpses at America on the move:

California topped the list of shipments in 2008 with more than 40,000, out of which slightly more departed than arrived in nation's most populous state.

Washington, D.C. had few shipments, but the highest percentage of inbound, at 62 percent.

Nevada remained second on the inbound list, with 59 percent, marking its 23rd straight year with more arriving than leaving. (Oregon marked 21 years).

North Carolina, with the fastest growing population of any state east of the Mississippi River, dropped from first in inbound shipments in 2007 to third in 2008 (58.2 percent).

Michigan led the outbound list, with more than two-thirds of its shipments headed out of state. Michigan has lost half a million jobs since 2000 and its unemployment rate has creased the 10 percent mark. Michigan was one of only two states to lose population last year; Rhode Island the other.

North Dakota remained an outbound state for the 13th straight year, at 59 percent, a significantly smaller rate than a year earlier. New Jersey was third in percentage of outbound moves. Moving west, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin remained majority outbound, at least in terms of United Van Lines shipments.

In several states, the margin were slim. West Virginia was an outbound state by a difference of just five shipments, Florida by 17. Minnesota was an inbound destination by six shipments, Iowa by a dozen.

The good news for Louisiana, still recovering from hurricanes Rita and Katrina, was that the percentage of inbound shipments increased from 50 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2008.

Massachusetts, New Mexico and Missouri (reversing a 13-year trend) went from being outbound states in 2007 to inbound in 2008, while Nebraska and New Hampshire reversed in the opposite direction, from being inbound in 2007 to outbound in 2008.

So, what’s going on?

“Analysts say migration has declined because the U.S. population is getting older and most moves are made when people are young. Another brake on moving is the rise of two-career couples, because it is more difficult to coordinate a relocation when two jobs are involved,” says the Pew Research Center report.

“When the housing market slows, the moving business slows and that's why we are showing slightly less moves this year than last,” said Jennifer Bonham of United Van Lines.

If you could move to another region, would you? To which region? Click here to answer.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Vernon, Lancaster, Ca.

    Home to me is any place in the world where most of my neighbors show care, concern, respect, and responsibility to my family and vice versa. When that drops below a certian level, it is no longer home, it's just a house, and it is time to look for another home.

    January 30, 2009 at 4:55 am |
  2. hala

    I grew up in Lebanon, moved to New York, then married a Mexican man. When I visit my family back 'home' I feel it's great to be home, when I sit on my couch at night in my warm NYC place with a hot cup of tea I feel it's calm and peaceful to be home, and when I go to Mexico to visit my inlaws I think it's nice to watch my husband be at home..

    January 30, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  3. Robert P

    I think we are going in the right direction, How ever It will take time.
    When they devalue the dollar to the point where it is wort nothing overseas. then we will have to start making things here.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  4. roslyn

    it is tanatamountly clear that former rev. haggard is not telling the whole story even to date. with all his lies and retractions when expose
    how can he be believed now.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  5. Isabel, RJ, Brazil

    My home is very happy ...
    Despite the mess, of toys scattered all singing, and some fights to decide what we will watch (if Bob Sponge, AC360, or football) ...
    Has always much love and affection ...

    Home is wherever we are, provided there who love and who loves us.

    Last year, I moved to a larger apartment, and at the same time has the possibility of me moving to NY city.
    With the crisis, the new change was on stand-by.
    But anyway, even with this uncertainty, I am happy because I discovered AC360 and AC (in person) and I can see the world differently.

    January 29, 2009 at 8:28 pm |
  6. David, Brooklyn

    Why doesn't CNN fire Lou Dobbs the way the NYT fired Kristol?

    This would show that your network is on the move too!

    Come home, CNN!

    January 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Timothy Gibson

    Home is that warm fuzzy spot inside myself that I get when I am hugged by a family member, when I eat with family, when I know I am loved. That is home.

    January 29, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    Home is where I lived for most of my life until about 10 years ago – Knoxville Tennessee – where I can see the Smoky Mountains from the kitchen window, where my mother lives down the road and my brothers are always stopping by to give me grief, where I was born and my children were born......I moved to where I am now for a job that has since gone away. Home I've discovered is where you are loved and where the people who you love are.....right now I have 2 homes – the one in Tenn. and the one in Alabama where I am now with my children.

    January 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  9. Sandra

    Home is where your heart and where you heart is makes you do your best and create a safe and loving environment; for family, friends and neighbors.

    Neighbors include our country America.

    January 29, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  10. Anna, HK

    Home is definitely the place where I was born & grew up – NZ. People that I have interacted with during my formulative years – parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts......, and school friends that are still around in my life now...all played a part. Also the multicultural environment that makes up NZ definitely contributed to my view of the world through my travels nows & how I interact with it.

    January 29, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  11. Cherisa

    Home is Memphis TN. It's not where I was born but it's where I grew up and continue to live. It's where family members come for the holidays.
    Orlando FL is where I was born, where I spent the first four years of my life, and where we vacationed almost every year afterward. My parents have since moved back, so I feel in a way that it's my second home.

    January 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  12. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Home is where I'm loved and safe. It's that soft place to land when the world knocks me around. It's those people who know me, respect me, and put up with me when I'm at my best and worst. Home is knowing I'm always welcomed back when I go away. It's always having a warm bed, warm cup of coffee, and warm hug at the ready. I've lived in different places, but they've always become home. Even after I've left, they are still part of me, the people there are part of me, and they will always have a special place in my heart. When we sold my parents home after my mom died (built on my great-grandfather's plantation), I was destroyed. What I realized after was that the place can change, but the memories and lessons and love are always around. And the only way I'd leave Louisiana again is if I were going to professional school in NYC. But after, I'd be on the first flight back to these bayous.

    January 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm |

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