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Why People Stay Where They Are

We hear a lot about why people leave their communities—but only about one in ten Americans moves per year.
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Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

From conquering the Western frontier to the great movement to the suburbs, nothing has been more central to the American experience than mobility—the ability to seek out new places offering better homes, more space, better jobs and more economic opportunity.

But according to a growing body of data, this long-coveted mobility appears to be slowing substantially. According U.S. Census data, the share of Americans who move each year fell from more than 20 percent during the 1950s and 60s to just 11.7 percent last year, which is just about the lowest level since such statistics have been collected. The chart below, produced by Trulia and based on the Census data, shows the downward mobility trend since 2001.