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Positive Sign for the Economy? Americans on the Move Again

Thursday, 22 Jul 2010 | 1:48 PM ET

One potentially positive sign from the uncommon economic indicators file: the American Moving and Storage Association shows Americans are on the move again.

The volume of household goods shipped through the first five months of 2010 was up 4.2 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the AMSA.

Most of the increase came from items shipped by consumers. Those types of shipments were up 11.2 percent in the period, a huge turnaround from declines of 21.5 percent and 18.2 percent for the January to May period, during 2009 and 2008 respectively.

“These numbers are very encouraging,” said Linda Bauer Darr, AMSA president and CEO. “They show big improvement in both of the private-sector business lines we track, consumers as well as corporate relocations, which were up nearly two percent.”

Experts have been concerned about the slump in the number of people changing residences for some time. The number not only reflects the sluggishness in the housing market, but also suggests that Americans are either unwilling or unable to move to follow job opportunities.

The lack of movement is also troublesome for the economy as relocation stimulates spending on items from take-out meals during the move to buying new window treatments or renovating the new place.

While this may be a positive sign, it will be interesting to see if it's sustainable. After all, retail spending surged upward during the first few months of the year, but has slumped since then.

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