News Story

Exodus From Michigan Is Slowing

State no longer leads the U.S.

The number of people moving out of Michigan has slowed in the last few years, according to data released by United Van Lines.

After leading the country from 2006 to 2009 in outbound shipments, which includes trucks carrying entire households out of the state, Michigan dropped to sixth highest in the nation in 2012

Since 1977, United Van Lines has published an annual analysis of where it moves people to and from each year. Last year, 57 percent of all Michigan related United Van Lines moves left the state. That's a 1 percentage point improvement from 2011, but a significant change from 2010, when the number was 62 percent.

New Jersey had the highest percent out outbound shipments in 2012 at 62.3 percent. Last year was the first time Michigan was not in the top five nationwide for the percentage of outbound shipments since 2003 when the state ranked seventh.

"You are still losing a little more than you are gaining, but it looks like fewer people are fleeing the state," said Donna Rook, president of, which is part of the non-partisan group, Truth In Accounting, an Illinois non-profit that works to encourage governments to produce financial reports that are transparent and understandable.

From 2011 to 2012, Michigan's population increased by 6,550 people, according to StateDataLab. The state's population was 9,883,360 in 2012, down from 10,041,152 in 2003.

Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said that United Van Lines data is closely correlated with actual Census data.

"There may not be a better single metric than migration for measuring quality of life," LaFaive said. "People make investments in their own well-being and sometimes that investment includes higher returns from living away from Michigan. Not every move is economic in nature but I believe most are. When people flee Michigan for Texas or Florida that speaks of relatively more opportunities down south."


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.