NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 19, 2007

One of the more intriguing statistics in demography is migration among the 50 states. And especially revealing is the data on "out-migration," or those residents of a state who flee to what they must figure will be better climes, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Empire Center, a New York think tank, has inspected the latest Census Data on migration, and finds that two of the three biggest losers of people from 2005 to 2006 were California and New York.
  • Louisiana was the biggest net loser, as 241,000 fled the state for a rate of 54.85 per 1,000 residents, but it is a special case after Hurricane Katrina.

New York, which finished second, has no such act-of-God excuse, says the Journal:

  • It lost more than 225,000, or a rate of 11.69 per 1,000 from 2005 to 2006, and more than 1.2 million New Yorkers have moved out since 2000.
  • California lost the most people (287,000) of any state from 2005 to 2006, but because it is the most populous state its out-migration rate was a merely dreadful 7.92.

Without immigrants who have made up some of the difference, both states, and especially New York, would have declining overall populations and thus shrinking tax bases.

Authors E. J. McMahon and Kathryn McCall point out that no single cause can explain these migration trends:

  • Housing costs, New York's stagnant upstate economy and heavy tax burdens no doubt play a role.
  • On the other hand, weather probably counts for less, since Alaska, New Hampshire, Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all added population even as New Yorkers have left by the tens of thousands.

According to the Journal, taxes and economic opportunity are decisive in many cases, especially for the mobile young and the well-to-do old. 

Source: Editorial, "The Biggest Losers," Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2007; based upon: E.J. McMahon and Kathryn McCall, "Migrating New York Residents Still Heading for the Exits,"Empire Center, Research Bulletin No. 2, January 2, 2007.

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