Washington, D.C. leads U.S. in attracting new residents

@CNNMoney January 6, 2012: 7:07 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Among those who moved last year, the nation's capital was once again the most popular destination.

According to a United Van Lines annual migration study, which took into account 146,000 interstate moves, nearly twice as many Americans moved to Washington, D.C. than moved out, making it the most migrated to destination in the nation for the fourth year in a row.

Often, people go where the jobs are. As unemployment soared throughout most of the nation over the past four years, jobs were being created in or near D.C., thanks to one big employer: The government.

The federal government hired about 150,000 workers, not including postal employees, since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of the new jobs were in D.C. and the surrounding areas in Northern Virginia and Maryland. And government salaries have been increasing, sometimes dramatically, drawing in many affluent professionals -- the kind likely to hire a large, full-service mover like United -- to the area.

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Other states that attracted far more people than they lost included North Carolina, Florida, Oregon and Nevada.

Illinois saw the biggest exodus, according to United's survey, with 61% of its moves going outbound. New Jersey, New York, Michigan, West Virginia and most of New England -- Maine Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island -- also saw big net losses.

One surprise was North Dakota, where 56% of United interstate moves were outbound. That was despite the oil-fueled boom that helped keep the state's unemployment rate the lowest in the nation.

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United's annual study has shown to be a good predictor of the more precise migration data that comes out later in the year from the Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service.

"The United Van Lines' study has been shown through the years to accurately reflect general migration patterns in various regions of the country," said Carl Walter, vice president for the company. To top of page

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