An annual report by the moving company United Van Lines shows slightly more of their customers were moving into Nebraska than out in 2019.
Despite overall population growth in Nebraska, however, government statistics show Nebraska has lost more residents than it has gained over the past decade.
Nebraska ranks 23rd on the survey for inbound moves, with 51% of movers arriving and 49% departing.
The United Van Lines report also provides data on why customers say they are moving.
Of the offered responses, the vast majority of Nebraska movers going in either direction reported moving for job-related reasons. Family and retirement were among the other leading factors.
60.5% of inbound movers said they were coming to Nebraska for job reasons, while 69.44% of outbound said they were leaving for job reasons.
Though jobs were far and away the top motivator on both sides of the state line, family ranks as a notable second place reason people were moving to Nebraska (28.95%), while retirement is second for departing movers (18.06%).
As we look at these migration numbers, we have to acknowledge that there are generational and geographic trends that are outside Nebraska’s control. More movers are choosing states in the South and West as the Midwest struggles broadly, particularly in Illinois and Kansas. Among the whole field, Nebraska could stand to do better, but could also be doing much worse.
For example, conventional wisdom says Nebraska isn’t an ideal retirement destination and states like South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho are attracting a greater balance of retirees from this survey.
But the gap between movers coming and going for retirement (11.84% vs. 18.06%, respectively) is not nearly as wide in Nebraska as many other states. Consider, for example, retirees in Connecticut, who are choosing to leave their state by more than 20 points.
Younger movers are also clearly a weakness for Nebraska in this survey. Just under half of the outbound movers are under 44. But the trend seems to narrow as movers get into their 30s and 40s.
As policymakers ask what can be done to remedy some of these shortcomings for attracting and retaining residents, they should also keep in mind the areas where Nebraska does appear to have some staying power. After all, some states doing a great job (or who are just fortunate) attracting younger residents in this survey are not doing as well keeping their residents overall, while some states with a balanced movement of younger residents are still growing.