United Van Lines (UVL), one of the largest moving companies in the nation, released its annual National Movers Study on Wednesday. The study ranks the 50 states by the share of total interstate moves out of the state. UVL has conducted this study since 1978, and it has been getting more attention in recent years.
Reporting on the latest results, Newsweek led its story with “New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut topped a list of states that saw more residents moving out than arriving from other states in 2018, continuing a trend of people leaving the Northeast and the Midwest for growing cities in the Mountain West and South …”
Coincidentally, or not, New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut are also the three lowest-ranking states in the nation based on Truth in Accounting’s “Taxpayer Burden” measure of state governments’ financial condition.
How important are state government finances for recent migration trends? What are some other factors that can explain those trends?
United Van Lines identified the Top 10 states with the highest net inbound moves as Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
The Top 10 states with the most outbound moves were (alphabetically) Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
These two groups of states differ from each other on some very interesting dimensions (we are going to exclude DC in this analysis). Using Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab, we can rank the states on a wide variety of other characteristics, and compare these two groups of “in-migration” and “out-migration” states.
Comparing the average rankings for these two groups, some of the significant differences (ranked from lowest to highest in terms of significance) include:
- Cost of Living: Out-migration states have higher cost-of-living rankings, using regional price parity statistics.
- Doctors Accepting New Medicaid Patients: Out-migration states rank lower on the share of doctors accepting new Medicaid patients. States in bad financial condition tend to have fewer doctors accepting new Medicaid patients.
- Winter Average Temperature: Out-migration states tend to rank lower (colder) for average winter temperatures.
- Trust in State Government: Out-migration states rank significantly lower than in-migration states in the latest Gallup poll on trust in state government.
- Taxpayer Burden (TIA): Out-migration states rank significantly lower (worse) on Truth in Accounting’s “Taxpayer Burden” measure of state financial condition.
- Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector: Out-migration states rank significantly higher for the share of government employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.
- Taxpayer Burden (WalletHub): Out-migration states rank significantly higher on the share of income consumed by taxes, a different measure of “taxpayer burden” calculated by WalletHub.
- Balanced Budgets: Out-migration states rank significantly lower in terms of how frequently they keep accrual expenses below revenue on an annual basis since 2005. Conversely, in-migration states do a significantly better job of meeting balanced budget requirements. They also rank higher on trust in state government.
- Lawyers per 10,000 Residents. In the most significant difference among these 9 indicators, out-migration states rank significantly higher on the number of lawyers per capita.
So, how does Illinois fare in all of this? As noted, Illinois ranked second worst out of the 50 states for out-migration in 2018, at least by UVL’s count..
In turn, the table below reports Illinois’ ranking on all nine of the above measures out of the 50 states.
1. Doctors Accepting New Medicaid Patients (30)
2. Winter Average Temperature (31)
3. Cost of Living (33)
4. Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector (38)
5. Wallethub's taxpayer burden (43)
6. Lawyers per 10,000 Residents (46)
7. TIA's Taxpayer Burden (48)
8. Balanced Budgets (49)
9. Trust in State Government (50)
Illinois, one of the highest out-migration states in the nation, ranked third-to-last, second-to-last, and last, respectively, in Truth in Accounting’s Taxpayer Burden indicator, how frequently the state truly balanced its budget since 2005, and trust in state government.
Perhaps some lessons may be learned in all of this, particularly in light of today’s news that the longest-serving member of the Chicago City Council and the chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee has been indicted on federal corruption charges.