Andrew Waldholtz, who grew up in mid-sized Virginia Beach, wanted to live in a big city, so he went to college in the District of Columbia. After four years in the relatively expensive city, he realized he needed a more affordable place to live.
Waldholtz, 35, eventually found a happy compromise in St. Louis, which offered Midwestern affordability and opportunities to advance his career in corporate compliance while also housing his sister and brother-in-law.
Waldholtz, who now lives 940 miles (1,513 kilometers) away from Virginia Beach, is in a distinct minority among those who reached adulthood in the twenty-first century in that he lives half a continent away from where he grew up, according to a new study by U.S. Census Bureau and Harvard University researchers released Monday.
According to the study, by the age of 26, more than two-thirds of young adults in the United States lived in the same area where they grew up, 80 percent had moved less than 100 miles (161 kilometers), and 90 percent lived less than 500 miles (804 kilometers). According to the study, migration distances were shorter for Black and Hispanic young adults compared to white and Asian young adults, and children of higher income parents traveled farther away from their hometowns than those of lower income parents.
In the United States, young adulthood is a time of greatest migration. The study looked at the likelihood of people born between 1984 and 1992 leaving the commuting zone in which they grew up. Commuting zones are made up of one or more counties that reflect a local labor market, and there are over 700 of them in the United States. The study’s birth range overlaps with the generation known as millennials.
According to the study, which used decennial census, survey, and tax data, the most common destinations for young adults were concentrated near where they grew up.
For example, three-quarters of those who grew up in the Chicago area stayed. Rockford was the top destination for people who moved away and stayed in Illinois, but it represented less than 1% of Chicago’s young adults. According to an interactive data tool that accompanies the study, Los Angeles was the top destination for those who moved out of state, but it only accounted for 1.1 percent of young adults from Chicago.
Atlanta, Houston, and Washington were the most popular destinations for young Black adults moving away from their hometowns. According to the study, young Black adults from high-income families were more likely than those from low-income families to move to these cities in a “New Great Migration.”
The most populous destinations for white adults leaving their hometowns were New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Denver. The top two destinations for Asian and Hispanic young adults were Los Angeles and New York. San Antonio and Phoenix were also popular with Hispanics, while San Francisco drew Asian young adults.
Recent studies show a decline in mobility in the United States for the general population, which supports millennials’ reluctance to move far away. Around a fifth of U.S. residents, not just young adults, moved each year in the middle of the last century. According to a recent Brookings Institution report, that figure has steadily declined since the 1950s, falling from around 20% to 8.4% last year, owing to an aging population, dual-income households that make it more difficult to pick up and move, and, more recently, the pandemic.
According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, a quarter of U.S. adults ages 25 to 34 will live in a multigenerational family household in 2021, up from 9% in 1971. The age groups in the Pew study and the Census Bureau and Harvard University researchers’ studies overlap to some extent.
When wage increases occurred in a local labor market, the majority of the benefits went to residents who grew up within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the area rather than people who had migrated to the area. Wage increases had little effect on migration to an area, and migrants would have moved there regardless of wage increases. Young Black adults were less likely to move to a place because of wage hikes compared to white and Hispanic millennials, said the study released Monday.