One-way moves to a handful of western Montana cities helped push the state higher up the list of growth states, according to migration data released this month by U-Haul.

According to the company, Kalispell leads the state in gains, with Missoula, Helena and Hamilton also scoring high in the net increase of U-Haul trucks.

While the migration trends don't correlate directly to population or economic growth, the company’s growth data represents one tool to gauge if cities and states are attracting and maintaining residents.

Montana moved up eight spots on this year's list, from 34 to 26.

“Montana arrivals of one-way U-Haul trucks dipped 2%, but departures were down 3% compared to the state’s 2018 numbers,” said Andrea Batchelor, the company's public relations specialist. “With fewer moving trucks leaving the state, arrivals accounted for 50.2% of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Montana, making it the No. 26 state for netting do-it-yourself movers.”

Florida surpassed Texas as the top growth state for 2019. North Carolina also jumped 21 spots to third on the list, with South Carolina and Washington rounding out the top five.

Illinois and California led the way in out-migration with the largest net loss of moving trucks crossing their borders.

“Growth States are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state during a calendar year,” said Batchelor. “Kalispell leads Montana’s gains. But Helena, Columbia Falls, Missoula and Hamilton are among other notable cities to see a net increase of U-Haul trucks.”

The migration data is compiled annually from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul transactions.