Tuesday, September 29, 2009

People Voting With Their One-Way U-Haul Rentals

Fortunately, the American people and businesses can vote with their feet, and with their one-way truck rentals, and that is apparently what the U-Haul data in the chart above show they are doing—moving away from places like Detroit and Providence with high unemployment and business-unfriendly environments, to cities like Fairfax, Fargo, and Houston that rank high for business climate in a new Forbes study on the best states for business.

Read my full post here at
The Enterprise Blog.


At 9/29/2009 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A similar chart could have been posted in the early 1980's when the same thing was happening Detroit was again in the last one out turn out the lights mode. A few years later Houston fell into that mode after the price of oil tanked.
I doubt the data exists but it would be interesting to track these numbers over time.

At 9/29/2009 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or that Provicence has a lot of quality colleges/universities in and around the area that have a large out of state demographic. And for this to be true, the ratio would not need to be 1.

At 9/29/2009 10:31 PM, Blogger montestruc said...

Volia, helpful links about unemployment in Houston TX & Providence RI



Providence, RI is as of July at 12.7%, Houston, TX at7.9

one year ago (sept 08) it was
Providence - 7.9 %
Houston - 5.1%

as in the gap is widening.

At 9/30/2009 3:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised that just to rent a truck would be over $2000. I often buy a used trailer, and then sell it at the new destination. Much cheaper.
Did the same in Europe once; bought a used van, traveled for 6 weeks and then sold it.

At 9/30/2009 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This would be more interesting if there were a bigger collection of cities.

Is there a selection bias--in any collection of a number of cities, there is always a selection you can make to make a point. But, if you tried to correlate, say, a large number of cities with unemployement for each, the results might not hold. So, show me more cities; otherwise this could be selection bias.

Second, there could be biases related to the business operations of Uhaul in each city. For example, there would be greater demand for Uhauls if the Uhaul operator made a bad decision a few years ago and did not invest in more Uhauls, and thus less supply and higher price, with persons selecting other forms of transport, or other similar companies (Uhaul is not the only operator of lease vehicles).

I think this is useful information, but you have to be more careful.

At 9/30/2009 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that a U Haul dealer has local trucks he owns and floaters that were left there by those ending their move at the city. It is the floaters that go one way. So the U Haul model is one of supply and demand purely. If more people leave area 1 and go to area 2 there will be a surplus of trucks in area 2 and a deficit in area 1. U Haul sets prices to keep surplus supplies/short supplies to a manageable level.
Based upon this business model the rates are a decent metric on population movements.

At 9/30/2009 3:24 PM, Blogger John Thacker said...

"Or that Provicence has a lot of quality colleges/universities in and around the area that have a large out of state demographic."

But isn't it move-in season right now, so wouldn't those students be going to Providence?

At 9/30/2009 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responding to last anonymous,

I would assume that what is in the float--uhauls from other locations that are not your own--are also usable in the destination city by the local Uhaul owner. If so, the float could become rental property of the local Uhaul company to avoid purchasing more Uhauls or to cover failure to purchase in the past. Would need to know more facts.

At 9/30/2009 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that the float is owned by other UHaul dealers, look at the license plates of trucks in local shops. So in theory, except that many lawsuits maintain that the floater units are not maintained very well. The local guy could buy off another, but the poor maintenance levels means that it could hurt the guy in the local business (Plus locals provide a chance for repeat business) For example many have long expired safety inspection stickers because they don't return home. (Better check if the plates are from a state you pass thru, or you could get a ticket)

At 10/08/2009 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you are "over-thinking" this. Just go to the data source, uhaul.com as listed under the chart and do your own analysis for as many cities as you want, then come up with your own conclusions. The bottom line is that the price is going to go where the demand is, where there is money to be made; a basic principle of the free market! No government research grant needs to be given to another organization to spend $10,000,000 to analyze this data!!

At 10/27/2009 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MSN money is finally posting the same info: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveonaCar/where-jobs-are-the-u-haul-indicator.aspx


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