Illinois tops a new list tracking the percentage of outbound moves among the 50 states.

The annual report from United Van Lines found that 63% percent of all interstate moves are outbound from Illinois, compared to 37% inbound. Melissa Sullivan, Director of Marketing Communications for UniGroup, the parent company of United Van Lines, says it’s not a surprise.

“This is a continuation of a trend that we’ve seen,” Sullivan said. “The state has ranked in the top five for each of the last nine years.”


New York and New Jersey were the only other states with an outbound rate of more than 60 percent. New Jersey dropped from the top of the list, after holding that spot for five straight years.

According to Census data released last month, Illinois lost 33,703 in total population in the last year, a greater population decline than any other state in America. More than 114,000 net people left for other states.

Sullivan says the United Van Lines report shows people leaving Illinois tend to be higher earners.

“What we’re seeing for Illinois is people tend to be on the higher end of the range in income who are leaving Illinois,” Sullivan said. “More than 37% of people leaving say they make $150,000 a year or more, followed by 24% who make between $100,000 and $150,000.”

Sullivan says the top reasons given for the outbound moves are for retirement or a job.

“Nearly 50% of the people leaving Illinois are in the 55+ [age] category,” Sullivan said. “That does reflect a large contingent moving for retirement and others looking to get away from the colder weather. Maybe the state you’re moving to is something that fits your lifestyle better, with recreational opportunities or cost of living.”

The report shows Americans are moving westward, with the Northeast and Midwest losing residents. However, Sullivan says other neighboring states aren’t having the same issues Illinois is.

“Wisconsin does have 55% of their moves leaving the state,” Sullivan said. “But you look at other states – Indiana, Iowa, Missouri – those are what we consider balanced states where we have roughly the same amount of moves coming in as leaving the state.”