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People are on the road again

By Judy Martel ·
Friday, January 11, 2013
Posted: 11 am ET

People are on the move again, and that could give a boost to home sales. The latest U.S. Census shows that 11.8 million people, or 3.9 percent of the population, relocated to a different county in 2011, up from 3.5 percent in 2010.

The number of people moving to different counties, which often is a result of job changes, dropped to all-time lows in 2009 and 2010 as career prospects dried up. That helped to further slow home sales in a market already damaged when the housing bubble burst.

When people relocate, economists take it as a general sign that the economy is improving. In 2011, Sunbelt states such as Florida and Nevada, particularly hard-hit by the housing crisis, were among those that gained the most in population related to relocations. Not all the relocations were due to job changes -- retirees also contributed to the total number.

Whatever the reason, relocations are positive for the housing market, not just because of increased home sales, but because they provide jobs for those in related industries such as movers, contractors and landscapers, while also increasing retail sales for home goods.

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