Not enough U-Haul trucks for fleeing Californians in 2021 amid ongoing blue-to-red flight: report

Red states are top 5 gainers in U-Haul Growth Index signaling migration trends by measuring net difference between one-way entries and exits of the company's rental trucks for each state.

Updated: January 4, 2022 - 11:33pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A new report released Monday revealed California saw the greatest net loss in U-Haul migration in 2021, the second consecutive year the Golden State ranked 50th in the nation for U-Haul one-way migration.

The U-Haul Growth Index, an annual report that determines growth by calculating the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving in a calendar year, found that California had the largest net losses in one-way U-Haul trucks in 2021, followed by Illinois in 49th place.

According to the report, California remained the top state for out-migration in 2021, but its net loss of U-Haul trucks "wasn’t as severe as 2020." Analysts believe this is partly because U-Haul "ran out of inventory to meet customer demand for outbound equipment."

Texas took the top spot for growth in 2021, followed closely by Florida. According to the report, "arrivals made up 50.2% of all one-way U-Haul traffic" last year in the Lone Star state. The five biggest gainers were all red states, with Tennessee, South Carolina and Arizona rounding out the top five behind the Lone Star and Sunshine states.

"We see a lot of growth coming from the East and West Coast," said Matt Merrill, U-Haul Area district vice president of the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex and West Texas. “A lot of people moving here from California [and] New York. We also see a lot of people coming in from the Chicago markets. I think that's a lot due to the job growth — a lot of opportunity here. The cost of living here is much lower than those areas. Texas is open for business."

Data from the 2020 Census revealed that California had experienced sluggish population growth in the past decade, causing the state to lose a congressional seat for the first time ever.

In addition, a report released in December from the California Policy Lab found that the state is seeing a sharp decline in people migrating to the state. According to the report, entrances to California dropped 38% between March 2020 and September 2021, while exits increased by 12%.

In its report, U-Haul noted that while its migration trends do not directly correlate to population growth, "the U-Haul Growth Index is an effective gauge of how well cities are both attracting and maintaining residents."