From Jon at

Despite California’s economic challenges, the state was a draw last year — at least by moving van. Our compilation of annual traffic trends from three big van lines — United, Atlas and Allied — show that California last year had more inbound moves than departures for the second time in three years.

All told, the three van lines had 56,598 California moves in and out last year — an 8% increase vs. ’09. That growth alone is a good economic sign, as total trips involving Californians had fallen the previous four years we tracked. (2010 was still 37% below 2005 in terms of total moves in and out!)

Of those 2010 van moves, 51.2% were inbound moves to California vs. an 49.4% inbound rate in ’09. It’s only the second time since 2005 — 2008, if you must know — that vans from these three lines brought in more people to this state vs. taking them away. How it broke down:

  • United had 30,608 California moves last year – up 5% vs. ’09. Of that work, 51.3% was inbound moves vs. 49.2% in ’09. This is the highest level of in-bound California traffic for this line since 2000.
  • Atlas had 13,689 California moves last year – up 8% vs. ’09. Of that work, 52.3% was inbound moves vs. 51.3% in ’09. This is fourth consecutive year that Atlas had more inbound California work than outbound shipments.
  • Allied had 12,301 California moves last year – 13% vs. ’09. Of that work, 49.5% was inbound moves vs. 47.9% in ’09.

Trends in van moves are often watched as a signal of managerial hiring. Those new employees typically get employer-paid relocations that include van services. And these kind of people are typically homebuyers.

Now, to be fair, this class of mover to California can’t stem an overall outmigration to elsewhere in the nation. The 2,946 extra inbound van moves in 2010 weren’t enough to stop California from losing 72,000 folks to other states last year. Although, that outmigration was an improvement from 113,000 lost in ’09, according to data from the state Department of Finance.

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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