How COVID-19 Has Impacted Moves in America


COVID-19 has greatly impacted the way Americans live their lives. Both short and long term decisions are made with the pandemic in mind in today’s world. When looking specifically at the housing industry, mortgage rates have dropped significantly. Although home sales suffered in the spring, by summer of 2020 we saw them rebound again.

However, even though mortgage rates have decreased, the number of homes for sale compared to this time last year has decreased. At the same time, the number of homeowners refinancing their homes have increased. The ever growing concern for job security may also impact people’s decisions regarding when and where to make such a large purchase.

Even with the lower mortgage rates, the Federal National Mortgage Association predicts that 15% fewer homes will be sold this spring than last spring, specifically due to COVID-19. And yet in many cities in the United States, people are moving in historical numbers! So it is clear that COVID-19 has affected people throughout America differently – this article will touch on some of the factors behind that impact and what it means for the moving industry moving forward.

COVID-19 and how often people move.

Has the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak impacted how often people are moving? With the widespread lockdowns and corresponding shelter in place mandates, it would be easy to assume moving has been all but nonexistent during 2020.

Intriguingly, this has not been the case. Moving has been impacted, as have most major industries, but not to the extent that might be expected. In fact, in some areas such as large cities, moving has rapidly increased in 2020 compared to 2019. The graphic below offers a visual comparison of individuals moving out of cities in the last two years.

With millions of more Americans now working remotely, people are beginning to realize they can work from almost anywhere. What has been occurring, slowly yet surely, is a steady drip of individuals and families leaving their cramped, urban accommodations for nearby suburban or even rural living spaces.

This coincides with reports that more people are choosing to escape lockdown quarters by getting outdoors locally to explore. There is an argument that people are beginning to seek out nearby greener pastures in a very real and tangible way. However, some such moves – most especially in hard-hit cities like New York City and San Francisco – may also prove to be temporary.

In other cases, people have been moving from one urban area to another urban area, often one just as densely populated as the one being left behind.

Many single adults living independently reported choosing to leave New York City and surrounding areas in favor of moving home to be with family during lockdown. For example, where pandemic-related school closures left college students temporarily homeless, many may have moved back home with family to ride out the lockdown. In many larger cities, COVID-19 seems to spread more rapidly, which also plays a role in people leaving to be more “on their own” in the country, away from the masses.

Interestingly, statistics show that people are sharply divided in terms of future moving plans. For example, a full 25 percent of a recent survey stated that pandemic concerns may prompt a future move. Yet a full 25 percent also report that they do not anticipate moving in the near future for pandemic-related reasons. The following graphic dives into detail regarding people’s opinion on moving based on the pandemic.

COVID and Why People Move.

An estimated 22 percent of people in the U.S. have moved in the last six months. One-third of these survey respondents stated that their move was prompted by a need to relocate to a safer area.

Those moving also cited the following reasons for choosing to live elsewhere:

  • Seeking a less densely crowded area.
  • Moving home out of a need to care for an elderly loved one.
  • Better work prospects to replace lost income.
  • Access to safer and less crowded transportation options.


Even while some statistics indicate COVID has not been a major trigger for how often, where or why people move, the respected Pew Research Center recently released data contradicting these moving COVID claims.

Of the 20 percent of survey respondents who reported moving COVID plans, these are the top five reasons:

  • 35 percent of moves were initiated by the need for more indoor space.
  • 34 percent of moves occurred because they needed a new building.
  • 31 percent of moves were prompted by a need or desire for more outdoor space.
  • 23 percent of moves were caused by the need to find more affordable housing.
  • 23 percent of moves took place to bring families back together during lockdown.


Space is clearly a pressing concern prompting many moves over the last year. With the sudden surge in remote workers, many families have discovered their living space simply couldn’t effectively accommodate two or more adults living and working from home.Perhaps this is also why the cohort is reporting the strongest potential to make another COVID-related move in the near future is between the ages of 24 and 55  prime workforce years.

COVID-19’s Impact on the Moving Industry in 2020

Up until now, we have focused on the impact COVID has had on how often, where and why people are moving (or are choosing not to move). But what about the moving industry itself? Have moving professionals and companies experienced the type of economic impact that has rippled through the travel industry?

Not surprisingly, movers and shakers in the moving industry are genuinely worried about the near future economic health of the industry and their business. From a risk management perspective, this makes perfect sense, especially when bolstered by data showing that 74 percent of moving industry professionals have witnessed some level of downsizing during the last 12 months. 72 percent of survey respondents affirmed a near-past business slowdown attributed to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders.

However, as the data previously cited here showcases, moves are still taking place. Sometimes, these moves are prompted by the very same sort of downsizing that is causing economic concern in the moving industry.

However, the underlying impetus for the economic downturn itself is different this time around. Never before has the United States or the global economy experienced a downturn on this scale due to a seemingly unstoppable virus. The pandemic seems set to change our way of life – potentially forever. This means all the data available to us for study and prediction gives us only a baseline guesstimate at best for what could happen in the months and years ahead.

The rise of the remote workforce will likely have its own impact on the moving industry and it is one we are not yet well-equipped to predict. As a faint foreshadowing of brighter days to come (pandemic notwithstanding), 42 percent of Real Trends survey respondents stated that they did not intend to self-move ever again, even though 91 percent of these stated they felt capable and prepared to move again.

This statistics suggests that professional moving services will remain very much in demand for near-future moves and that demand may even increase due to COVID.

Facts about Moving for COVID or Non-COVID Reasons

These statistics represent general data about how people plan and prepare for an upcoming move, whether that move may be related to COVID or made for other reasons.

Choosing the right moving service is important.

On average, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of survey respondents said they took up to six months prior to their move date to choose a moving service!

Just 18 percent of respondents stated they took only a few weeks to one month prior to their move date to choose a moving service.

Older adults report moving as a higher stress life event.

Among adults aged 55 years or younger, moving was rated as one of the “most stressful” life events by 45 percent of survey respondents. The numbers, as high as they are, go up as age increases. Among adults aged 56 years or older, moving was rated as one of the “most stressful” life events by 66 percent of survey respondents.

In both cases, moving outranked every other option in terms of the stress it causes.


Source: Moving during COVID 19



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Building Business Stability In An Unstable World

Introducing Digital Factory 4.0, the future of effortless, connected, and proactive operations. 

I’ve seen some things. 

Back in 2000, I watched as the soaring dot com economy plummeted back to Earth. Then there was the gut-wrenching housing crisis of 2008. Still, I hardly envisioned a global pandemic that would drive 3,600 American businesses into bankruptcy in the first six months of 2020 alone.   

The scope of these bankruptcies are unprecedented, yet they underscore an old business maxim: the time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. In an unpredictable world, futureproofing your business isn’t optional. COVID-19 is one example of instability, but it’s easy to think of others geopolitics, climate change, and societal tension to name a few. And while every industry confronts these challenges, not every industry is similarly at risk.  

Introducing Digital Factory 4.0  

Manufacturers are particularly exposed to the economic impacts of COVID-19 because of their global supply chains, interactive working environments, and high sensitivity to downstream demand. These factors place them at risk from future crises as well. As a result, their post-pandemic planning must include process alterations for COVID-19 and a comprehensive strategy for whatever comes next.  

Fortunately, in this digital day and age we have the tools to create resilience for this pandemic and beyond.  

The first step is the complete digitization and connection of factory operations through automation and digital workflows. This will create what I like to call Digital Factory 4.0.  

This factory represents a fourth revolution within manufacturing. In the first, steam power mechanized production; in the second, electricity created mass production; in the third, information technology automated and globalized that production.  

Now, in the fourth, emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT), are combining to digitize, automate, and transform the factory entirely. 

Digital nervous system 

Digital Factory 4.0 is based on a digital nervous system that ties the full manufacturing value chain together and makes all operations effortless, connected, and proactive. This nervous system consists of workflows that eliminate silos and create a connected enterprise of universal visibility.   

On the factory floor, insignificant problems quickly ripple into larger delays down the line when machine operators lack the knowledge to remediate the issue. Something as small as a misprinted label can throw the entire production process into disarray.  

In Digital Factory 4.0, notes detailing past machine fixes, a comprehensive knowledge base, and a workflow-powered connection to an outside technician are all accessible through a mobile device linked to the factory’s digital nervous system. Employees have the information they need at their fingertips, operations flow effortlessly, and overall equipment efficiency (OEE) is improved throughout the factory.  

In the event of a larger breakdown, information about downstream effect is quickly cascaded to the relevant parties via automated workflows. Information captured in these workflows, along with that from IoT sensors, helps manufacturers better understand the trade-offs that limit or increase capacity.   

Oh geez...just screens with code looking very technological. Bleep bloop!
A digital nervous system connects the Digital Factory 4.0. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Intelligent quality control 

World-class operations extend beyond maintenance and information dissemination to quality control and product development—two areas of significant expense.  

For example, when a manufacturer I worked with altered its pet food recipe, it unknowingly shipped bags with heavier individual pellets and thus more food than necessary. That compounded into a noticeable cost.  

Digital Factory 4.0 addresses this problem in two ways. First, IoT sensors identify discrepancies immediately and trigger a disruption workflow that drives actions to resolve the complication before production is impacted. This is intelligent quality control. Again, it’s both effortless and connected.  

Second, by digitizing product development—running simulations on a digital twin of the physical product—we can decrease parts per million (PPM) defective rates and proactively address quality issues that arise when we, for instance, change a recipe.  

Along with improved OEE, decreased PPM translates to higher margins and greater profit, ensuring a sustainable and resilient factory.  

Connecting teams and people 

Most important, Digital Factory 4.0 connects teams, keeping the workforce healthy and engaged while managing for regulatory compliance. This is especially important as leaders consider how to safely navigate the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ServiceNow’s Contact Tracing app, for example, uses system data (badge scans, workstation location, etc.) to identify and isolate employees who come in contact with an individual infected by COVID-19. It’s one way to ensure a safe return to work, and it’s also indicative of a core tenet of connected teams: the use of employee data—on everything from common challenges to health and wellness—to build a sustainable workforce.  

For example, many manufacturing injuries can be linked to addressable root cause issues. By aggregating and analyzing information on these injuries, we can pinpoint causes and shift processes. The data also informs other areas in the organization, such as risk, compliance, and workforce planning.  

Digital Factory 4.0 is about getting access to this data on the assumption that all the information we need to perfectly optimize operations is readily available—if only we could see it.  

With COVID-19 placing pressure on manufacturers like never before, it’s the organizations who digitize operations and unlock their data that will survive, reinvest, and continuously improve.

Tasker Generes

Tasker Generes

Tasker Generes is global head of connected enterprise at ServiceNow, crafting strategy for the connected enterprise leveraging IoT, BlockChain, and AI while also providing executive level advisory to help companies modernize, transform and innovate. He is the author of 87 patent claims around ConnectedOperations, ConnectedHuman, ConnectedSecurity and ConnectedService. Prior to joining ServiceNow, Tasker was chief technology officer at Amtrak and ran his own consulting firm Silos to Service Solutions Inc., bringing business and IT together to leapfrog their competition through focused service. Through his work at IBM as chief technologist for service management solutions, Tasker developed a deep depth of knowledge and experience in leading global service management delivery across process, technology, organization and information. At IBM, he also served as co-chair of LEAP (Leadership Education for Asia-Pacifics). Tasker earned his Master of Project Management degree from George Washington University School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California, San Diego

Source: Forbes

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