Tracking State Migration of People - and Dollars

December 21, 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau's press conference this morning on the results of the 2010 decennial count generated a lot of attention on television and online, in part because of the announcement of which states would be gaining or losing representation in Congress. The population trends that are driving reapportionment, however, have wider implications beyond how many members of Congress a state sends to Washington.

In part, the rising (or in the case of Michigan actually falling) populations in each state are a referendum on the quality of life in that state. Naturally, a state's financial and tax climate has a lot to do with that, and a lot to do with a person's decision to continue living where they are or relocate to a more attractive locale.

Not suprisingly, states with lower tax budens and rates of government spending tend to be those that are gaining population. Joshua Culling of Americans for Tax Reform points this out today. There are many other factors influencing where people decide to live, but taxes and spending are significant ones.

Of course, you don't have to take that for granted. You can do a little number crunching yourself, painlessly, with the Tax Foundation's State to State Migration Calculator. Just pick a state, a start date and an end date, and programmer Nick Kasprak's online engine will do the rest. It'll tell you how many people and how much income moved to and from that state, from and to every other state, in the time period you've chosen. Once you've seen where the people (and money) are going, you can draw your own conclusions.

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