U-Haul Says These Are the 10 States People Are Fleeing, and Frankly We’re Not Surprised at All

U-Haul says these states are showing the most decline as people look for greener pastures.

friends moving furniture in new home
Updated July 18, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

As the curtains have closed on 2023, U-Haul's annual study on migration trends reveals the ebb and flow of populations across the United States.

The U-Haul Growth Index, compiled from over 2.5 million one-way U-Haul truck, trailer, and U-Box moving container transactions, showcases the cities experiencing the highest exodus.

Join us on this migration slideshow as we unveil the top 10 places people are moving away from the most.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

10. Oklahoma

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe beautiful view of lake with a row of trees and majestic buildings in the background at Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Although Oklahoma ranked fairly low on U-Haul’s growth list, the state actually saw a slight population increase, .86%, from 2022.

Newly released figures from the Census Bureau reveal that from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, Oklahoma’s population increased by a new 34,553 people with 23,587 of them coming to Oklahoma from other states. 

Perhaps they drove their own cars instead of renting a U-Haul.

9. Connecticut

f11photo/Adobe new haven city with connecticut cityscape

Connecticut, nestled in New England, observes a dip in its migration trends. The Northeastern state navigates a changing landscape as residents explore new chapters.

Despite gaining the overflow from New York during the pandemic, Connecticut is actually seeing older residents fleeing the state, balancing the population tide. Census data indicated the population of Connecticut residents aged 45-49 decreased 6% from April 2020 to July 2022.

Even worse, Connceciut’s slow population growth over the last 10 years is a major worry for the state’s worker shortage. The state’s labor force has declined by 52,100 people since February 2020, representing a whopping 39% of the New England area’s losses during that period.At the same time, the state struggles to fill 97,000 job openings.

8. New York

TTstudio/Adobe A view of New York City

New York, despite being a bustling cultural and economic hub, ranks 43rd in migration trends. It comes as no surprise that New York, one of the mot expensive cities on the planet, is experiencing a mass exodus.

While the Empire State ranks 43rd on U-Haul’s list for growth, New York actually lost more residents, and at the largest rate, in 2023 than any other state according to U.S. Census data.

New York lost a whopping 5% between July 2022 and July 2023, a trend that has continued from the pandemic due to congestion and ultra-high costs of living.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

7. Maryland

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Baltimore Maryland MD Inner Harbor Skyline Aerial

Featured in the U-Haul migration report, holds its ground at the 44th spot on the U-Haul Growth Index. 

According to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Maryland is ranked at the 19th most populous state, but ranks 40th for population growth with a population loss of .12%, coming fairly close to U-Haul’s estimate.

The state’s Chamber of Commerce claims slow job growth is a contributing factor to migration, particularly in non agricultural jobs.

6. Louisiana

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Shreveport Louisiana USA Skyline

Louisiana, nestled in the U-Haul migration study, shows mixed trends as it ranks 45th on the U-Haul Growth Index. Louisiana’s population has declined for the third straight year, with a .3% decrease since 2022 and a decrease of more than 1.8% over three years.

Four of Louisiana’s parishes ranked top 10 in the U.S. for the largest percentage of population loss in 2022 according to a new U.S. Census estimate. The culture-rich state was hit with a double whammy of unfortunate events that contributed to its losses - the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of destructive hurricanes.

The American Red Cross stated that Hurricane Laura caused extensive damage in August that kept families from returning to their homes for months. About six weeks later, Hurricane Delta hit and impacted many of the same towns, driving even more away.

5. Michigan

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe skyscape of detroit michigan at midnight

Nestled among the Great Lakes, Michigan sees a decline in one-way U-Haul traffic. As the auto industry hub navigates changes, its residents explore alternative destinations.

Michigan lost approximately 30,000 people from 2021-2022 according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The problem has grown significant, as Michigan is growing slower than all other cold-weather Rust Belt states, and deaths rise but births plummet.

Population stagnation is also a contributing factor to why Michigan workers earn less than the average in the nation and why housing values increase slower in the state than elsewhere in the country.

4. New Jersey

Bokicbo/Adobe liberty state park new jersey city

New Jersey takes a hit in migration trends, landing in the bottom five for the fourth year in a row. New Jersey is not a surprise state on the list, as the densely populated state witnesses a shift as residents seek different landscapes.

The U-Haul statistics can be a little misleading for the Garden State. Although it was amongst the lowest growth cities for one-way U-Haul reservations, its largest annual population increase was 4.3% between 2019 and 2020. 

Some areas of New Jersey, those further south and further away from New York City, offer more affordable housing options than their state-northern counterparts, which have understandably seen a decline.

3. Illinois

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Chicago Illinois USA Cityscape

Illinois, often known for its expansive prairies, faces a breeze of change as it secures a spot in the bottom five. The Land of Lincoln sees a net loss in U-Haul traffic.

The population in Illinois declined for the 10th consecutive year in 2023, with 32,826 residents leaving the state from July 2022 - July 2023 according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

High taxes were the number one reason Illinoians considered leaving the state, with better housing and employment opportunities closely following.

2. Massachusetts

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe boston massachusetts

Massachusetts rounds out the bottom five in migration trends, marking a continued departure from the Bay State. The historical charm faces a challenge as residents explore new opportunities.

According to a new report from the Massachusett Taxpayers Foundation, a net 110,000 people moved out of the Bay State over the first two years of the pandemic.

Even worse, the majority of these residents were between the ages of 26 and 35. The numbers represent the highest out migration numbers in the last 30 years for the state.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

1. California

Marco/Adobe San Francisco Beach View At Golden Hour

California, for the fourth consecutive year, clinches the top spot for the largest net loss of one-way movers. The allure of the West Coast faces a challenge as Californians continue to seek new horizons.

Many large cities in California, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, have some of the highest cost-of-living standards in the country, prompting the continual outflow of residents to more sustainable pastures.

Bottom Line

Roman Tiraspolsky/Adobe u haul truck parked

While U-Haul's Growth Index doesn't directly correlate with population or economic growth, it provides a unique glimpse into the changing landscape of states across the U.S.

For many of the bottom 10 in the U-Haul list, there was a real correlation with population decline. For others, like Oklahoma, the figure simply represented a preference in that region. The allure of the West Coast seems to be waning, and states in the Northeast and Midwest grapple with evolving migration dynamics.

As U-Haul continues to be a key player in this national movement, facilitating relocations and transitions, the slideshow of migration trends paints a picture of a nation on the move, seeking new opportunities and experiences.

Choice Home Warranty Benefits

  • First month free
  • Protection for unexpected expense
  • 24/7 claims hotline
  • Network of over 15,000 technicians

Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.