Stephen Mihm launches his investigation of American mobility by describing contemporary young Americans as anchored in place: "by one estimate, only 20.1 percent of millennials moved in the past year." Moreover, "[when] you look at 'long-distance moves' -– between counties or states -– it is only 7 percent, close to a historical low." And finally, "a whopping 36 [of Millennials] are now living with their parents."
Then, to compare and contrast the current mobility of contemporary young Americans to past generations, Mihm examines historic anecdotes and data, starting with Tocqueville through the middle of the 19th century and through the post-war realities of the mid-20th century.
According to Mihm, the country's tradition of mobility is at odds with the current stagnation of the Millennial generation. "But why are millennials, who are less likely to own a home, so thoroughly stuck in place?" he asks.
Mihm doesn't answer his question, but he does pose another thought-provoking jab: "[if] an earlier generation of Americans blessed with fewer resources and advantages could pull up roots and move to new towns and cities, sight unseen, it seems strange that millennials can’t do the same."