Illinois has the worst outbound migration rate in the country, according to a new survey, and the results are prompting warnings the state will continue to bleed population if a proposed increase in taxes is introduced.
The annual United Van Lines survey reveals that Illinois tied New York and New Jersey, with 63 percent of those moving last year leaving the state.
Michael Lucci, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, said the combined data from the United survey, and one done by Atlas Van Lines, shows the state has the single worst outbound rate in the country.
“The data also show that a substantial number of higher income Illinoisans are leaving and not being replaced by higher income Illinoisans moving in,” Lucci told Illinois Business Daily. “This is part of the population and wealth flight that has beleaguered the state. The same narrative comes out of every data source.”
Lucci said the data makes it clear Illinois “cannot solve its problems by increasing taxes on a population that is fleeing.”
“Illinois has to make transformational changes not just to get spending under control, but also to foster job growth and change the psychology of how people think about Illinois,” Lucci said.
The survey reveals the main reason cited for both leaving and moving to the state was because of jobs. Of those 63 percent leaving, more than half said it was due to a job. Of the 37 percent arriving, close to 65 percent did so because of a job.
The second main reason for nearly 25 percent of people leaving Illinois was retirement. In contrast, just over 8 percent of movers are retiring to Illinois.
One in five of those arriving and leaving did so because of family.
United has tracked state migration patterns since 1977. Heading the inbound list, and new to the top 10 in 2016, was South Dakota with 68 percent of movers. Also high on the inbound list are Oregon, Vermont, Idaho and South Carolina, all with rates of over 60 percent.
Jobs, retirement or family were the main reasons for moves both in and out of those states.
Apart from Illinois, New York and New Jersey, the states with the highest outbound rates were Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
“This year’s data clearly reflects retirees’ location preferences," Michael Stoll, an economist and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California Los Angeles, said. "We are seeing more retirees than ever decide to relocate, and as a result, new retirement hubs are popping up in Western states. Interestingly enough, these retirees are leaving at such a fast pace that the movement of millennials to urban areas in the Midwest and Northeast is being overshadowed.”
In a blog post, Lucci argued that Illinois Senate leaders are proposing to make matters worse in Illinois by raising the personal income tax rate.
“If the proposal is structured like the income tax hike legislation introduced introduced earlier in January, the law will be retroactive to the beginning of 2017," Lucci said. "Anyone with plans to leave Illinois this spring would effectively pay a border tax of hundreds or thousands of dollars on the way out the door.”
He also noted that the average income of people leaving Illinois shot up. As of 2014, the most recent year of data, the average income of people leaving the state was $77,000, while the average income of people entering the state was $57,000.
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