If you were asked which state has the highest number of people moving to the state vs. the number of residents who are leaving, you’d likely think of the populous states like California, Texas or Florida. Those three states alone have a combined population of over 80 million. That’s a lot of people who could be potentially on the move!
But, surprisingly, the answer is South Dakota. Yes, the Mount Rushmore State — that small, mid-western prairie place with fewer than a million residents. These statistics come from an annual survey conducted by United Van Lines — the nation’s largest moving company. Last year, South Dakota surpassed Oregon with 68% of all inbound moves. Only 32% were leaving.
The survey ranked all 50 states according to the proportion of people moving into the state versus those moving out. The actual number of people living in the state was not a factor as many states have large population growths based on birth rates and other migrations. This yearly study by United Van Lines is for the benefit of the moving industry so companies can identify trends and better position themselves in the market.
While moving to a new state is exciting, we had to ask ourselves, “So what’s driving this move to South Dakota?” It’s jobs, the cost of living and the quality of life that South Dakota offers. Over 60% of people moving to South Dakota were attracted by guaranteed jobs. Another 25% reported they were retirees or wanted to be closer to family members. The remaining 15% of relocations were for other reasons. Starting a new entrepreneurial business was the main factor.
Increasing Job Opportunities
The next question is what’s creating the employment opportunities causing this inward migration? A few years ago, the South Dakota government offered tax incentives to attract financial business. This was to boost a depressed economy.
Citibank was the first responder. They relocated their credit card operations to Sioux Falls and created 2,900 jobs. Other financial operations followed. Wells Fargo, Capital One and First Premier set up shop in South Dakota and now employ over 16,000 people in the thriving bank industry.
A spin-off happened in every economic sector. South Dakota began attracting young professionals like teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers. Construction boomed to house the newcomers which, in turn, created more employment. Now, Sioux Falls has boomed from 80,000 residents to nearly 230,000. That’s encouraged other start-ups such as entertainment and food businesses.
Encouraging Economic Prosperity
Wealth has spread all over South Dakota. It now has the lowest unemployment rate in America at 2.7%. South Dakota has no personal or corporate income taxes, yet is able to keep its housing prices well below the national average. The state has done well in quickly evolving from an agriculture and meat producing economy. Besides the financial base, South Dakota also thrives in information technology businesses and specialized trades.
With South Dakota leading the pack as the state most people are moving to, you’re probably wondering who’s at the other end. That distinction goes to New Jersey who has nearly three-quarters of its moves packing up and getting out. But for now, business is boomin’ for people who move to South Dakota.