Ohio was one of the top five outbound states for movers in 2015, according to United Van Lines’ 39th annual National Movers Study, which depicts a continuing trend of Midwestern residents moving to Southern and Western states in 2015.
Two major reasons for leaving the Midwest — specifically Ohio — are a sluggish economy and an older population seeking to retire in warmer climates, according to the survey. While Ohio’s unemployment rate has decreased more than 50 percent since 2010, the Ohio growth and payroll employment rate — which measures the quantity of wage and salary workers — has only increased 1.4 percent from 2014-2015, much lower than the national average, which has increased 2.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bill LaFayette, owner of economic research and strategy firm Regionomics in Columbus, said that overall Ohio’s job market continues to flag, and only central Ohio (Columbus in particular) has seen substantial job growth. This is primarily because Columbus has benefited from significant population growth over the past six years, which jumpstarted the job market in the state’s capitol.
”People may be thinking their prospects are better elsewhere, and this could go on for years, this is absolutely nothing new,” LaFayette said. “Between 2010 and 2014 the Columbus MSA increased in population by about 90,000, and the state as a whole increased by about 57,000. Columbus has been doing very, very well. If you look over the course of the entire economic recovery, Ohio job growth is substantially greater in the Columbus area. What you have is a lot of migration from other parts of Ohio to the Columbus area.”
While Ohio’s economy is not contracting, the real problem is Ohio isn’t growing as fast as Southern or Western states, LaFayette said.
“When you look at the data, about 60 percent of Ohio residents using United Van Lines are leaving because of finding a new job or job relocation,” Economist Michael Stoll said. “In the West, it’s really about employment growth and creative design and aerospace engineering.”
United Van Lines cites Oregon as the “Top Moving Destination” and three more Western states and four Southern states as top 10 inbound states.
While some Ohio residents move to find new, better jobs, Ohio also is home to an aging population, and many retirees leave the state for the South to find lower housing costs and warmer climates.
“Fifteen to 17 percent are leaving for retirement,” Stoll said. “The population in the Midwest are older in comparison, these are retirees and they like to move out of the Midwest for housing costs or warmer weather or a different lifestyle.”
If Ohio wants to keep residents, it will need to develop an attractive job market, but developing an attractive job market depends on whether the Ohio population grows substantially in the near future, Stoll said.
An Allied Van Lines study collected data regarding Allied movers in 2015, and reported 125 more people moved into Ohio than moved out of Ohio in 2015.
”We’ve got a lot of stuff going for us — we’ve got really nice natural resources, cities, towns, villages, a lot of really interesting historic architecture, great quality of life, but if you can’t get a job, you can’t stay,” LaFayette said. “Part of the problem is our very low rate of population growth. If the local population isn’t growing, neither can the retail base.”