Geographical mobility in America has fallen to the lowest level on record dating back to 1948, according to figures released by the US Census Bureau. There are a number of factors that underlie the sharp decline, including: record levels of poverty, a catastrophic jobs situation affecting most parts of the country, and the collapse of the housing market, which has left many families unable to sell homes that are worth less than they owe.
Many college graduates and young workers, facing high unemployment rates and record levels of debt, are unable to afford to start a family and are forced to move back in with their parents. Other students are forced to drop out of college altogether, unable to afford soaring tuition rates brought on by budget cuts at the state and federal levels. It’s a sign that young adults in the prolonged slump weren’t even willing to venture outside their counties, continuing instead to live with relatives or on college campuses.”
At the same time, traditional retirement destinations for older Americans, such as Florida and Arizona, are seeing sharp population declines, in part due to the collapse of the housing bubble in these areas. More elderly Americans have also been forced to return to work and delay retirement as a result of the economic crisis. More elderly Americans have also been forced to return to work and delay retirement as a result of the economic crisis.
On the other hand, the regions of the country with the largest increases in population—such as New York, California, and Illinois—are also those that have some of the highest levels of inequality. Another Census Bureau report has found that the most unequal state in the country is New York, though it does trail the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The most unequal metropolitan area in the country is the New York City area, which includes parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The decline in mobility, while particularly sharp since the beginning of the economic crash three years ago, is a long-term phenomenon. Peak mobility in the United States occurred in the early 1950s, in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. It fluctuated during the post-war period, but reached a temporary peak of more than 20 percent in the early 1980s. Mobility has fallen steadily since then, in part a reflection of the growth of two-income families, which makes moving more difficult. This was itself a response to the stagnation or decline of incomes for most workers, making multiple jobs necessary to meet increasing costs. This divergence has only increased since 2008, as a result of the bailout of the banks, overseen by the Obama administration, and wholesale attack on the jobs and income of the working class.
Title: Record low mobility reflects US social crisis
Author: Joseph Kishore
Publication: World Socialist website.
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University
Student researcher: Sean Lawrence, Sonoma State Univeresity