More Moving Out Of Than Into Mich., Study Says

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Business is brisk at the U-Haul near the corner of Cedar Street and Jolly Road. While it might be good for the company, the kind of business its doing might be bad news for Michigan.

"Within this week, we probably had about 50 to 75 people move out of the state," assistant manager Derek Brownlee said. "They're moving out West or South."

Brownlee says company numbers show a rise in out-of-state moves this year compared to last year and years past.

A new study from another moving company, United Van Lines, claims U-Haul's experience isn't unique.

The United Van Lines customer study puts Michigan at the top of the list, tied with North Dakota, for having more people moving out than moving in.

In fact, 66 percent of all the interstate moves in the study to or from Michigan are "outbound" -- leaving the state -- according to the data. (The study examines all interstate moves conducted by United, the nation's largest residential mover.)

In North Carolina, the lowest on the list, just 36 percent of the moves are "outbound."

Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy says Michigan leaders ought to take note of the numbers.

"We find that they track well and are a leading indicator of actual census bureau numbers of population change," McHugh said.

But Douglas Stites, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works, questions the study's reliability.

"I would loathe to be using a moving van company survey as the basis for doing an economic policy in state government."

He says he's seen evidence of Michigan retirees heading to warmer climates -- but no evidence of such a trend in the overall population.

"We have some challenges in the state because we aren't growing the economy as rapidly," Stites said. "(But) there's not data to suggest the mass migration of people out of the state."

He says that's a conclusion he'll wait to hear -- or not hear -- from the census bureau, rather than from moving companies.