WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The percentage of Americans changing homes in the United States fell to a record low last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The record low mover rate was driven by a drop in the likelihood of people moving from one location to another within the same county," Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau's migration statistics branch, said in a statement on Tuesday.
A study done in 2008 and 2009 found that people who move within 50 miles, which would typically keep them in the same county, change residences for housing related reasons. Those who move hundreds of miles tend to be motivated by employment, the Census said.
Between March 2010 and March 2011, 11.6 percent of Americans changed house, which beat the previous record low in 2008 of 11.9 percent. In each of the previous years, about 12.5 percent of people changed house.
The housing bust, financial crisis and economic recession spared only a few states, namely North Dakota and Alaska, which are rich in natural resources. With almost all states in the same economic distress, people who fell on hard times could not improve their situations by moving.
The Census noted that the number of people moving in 2009 was 37.1 million, much less than the 43.4 million in 1997, despite the increasing population. The decline began gradually in 2002, it said.
Some 60 years before, about 20 percent of the population had changed house and even in 1985, more than one in five Americans moved.
Still, 26.5 percent of renters moved in 2010.
Those living below the poverty rate were most likely to move. About 21.7 percent of the category moved in 2010, compared with 15.3 percent of those living at or just above the poverty rate and 9.1 percent of those living at 150 percent of the rate or above.
In 2010, 45.3 million people changed residences, but only 6.7 million moved to another state. The most common interstate change was from California to Texas, followed by New York to Florida and then Florida to Georgia, the Census found.
During the Great Depression, many people fled the Dust Bowl, which included Oklahoma and Texas, for the promise of opportunity in California. But in 2010, most were on the march from the Golden State. Four of the 10 most common moves were from California.
In a country founded by people constantly pushing west or moving to new places, the majority, 59 percent, now live in the state where they were born, the Census also found.
Louisiana has the most home-grown residents, 78.8 percent decide to stay, followed by Michigan, where 76.6 percent of people living there were born in the state.
In Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, less than 40 percent of the residents were born in those respective states.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Kenneth Barry)