Saturday, April 4, 2009

Leaving Michigan

Detroit's problems are well documented and what is playing out at the city level is occurring throughout the state as a whole (HT).

The state's net loss to outmigration -- the number of people leaving the state minus those moving in from other states -- has skyrocketed since 2001. Although the Census Bureau does not report totals moving in and out each year, Internal Revenue Service records show that the population decline is a result of two disturbing trends: The number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in plummeted by nearly one-third.

Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights -- the state's second-, third- and fourth-largest cities.

Population loss of that magnitude is so rare that its impact has never been studied. But The News' analysis discovered some sobering trends:

Those leaving Michigan are the people the state most needs to keep -- young and college-educated. The state suffered a net loss to migration of 18,000 adults with a bachelor's degree or higher in 2007 alone -- the equivalent of half the staff of the University of Michigan crossing the state line.

Source. This is obviously bad news for the state. U-Haul provides one glimpse of where people are headed. A few days ago they released their annual report on the 50 U.S. Destination Cities. No surprise that Detroit is not on that list.

Another way to have fun with U-Haul is to compare the rates to and from select cities. Detroit has long had more demand for outbound travel than for inbound. Here is one list from 2006 that looks at the rates for renting a U-Haul for a one way trip out of Detroit to a handful of different cities. The list also looks at the reverse trip. It is generally much more expensive to leave Detroit than to migrate to the Rock City.

I just looked up the rates for a couple of cities and the trend seems to be about the same. For example, renting a 26 foot U-Haul for the trip from Detroit to Atlanta costs $1006. The same truck from Atlanta to Detroit costs $$693. It's the same for the Detroit to Sacramento route: $3,548 to Sacramento and $2,296 to Detroit. For some reason it is cheaper to move from Chicago to Detroit. I'm not sure what to make of that. In general though you can see the strong demand to leave.

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