- Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
- Census data for 2016 and 2017 shows which states have seen the most outbound migration.
- New York, Illinois, and California are seeing the most residents pack up and leave for other states.
- Among the issues are high taxes, real estate prices, and the cost of living.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are the largest cities in the country, but their respective states are actually seeing the most people packing up and leaving.
Business Insider analyzed Census data from 2016 and 2017 and compiled a list of the states that are seeing the most outbound migration. That means residents that are leaving a state for another state.
The top 10 include New York, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, and Kansas.
While the reasons each state is dealing with an outbound migration crisis are different, there are several common themes, including high taxes, real estate prices and the cost of living.
Continue to read more about why each state is seeing an exodus.
10. Kansas lost 13,159 residents between 2016 and 2017.
Eighty years after Dorothy ran away from her aunt and uncle’s Kansas farm in the Wizard of Oz, people are leaving the state in droves.
For the fifth straight year, more people have left the state than moved in, according to the 2018 National Movers Study from Untied Van Lines.
Kansas ranked #5 out of the top 10 states that have seen the most outbound migration in the past year. The biggest reason people cited for their move from Kansas was for a job (63.82%).
The Wichita Business Journal said the exodus is causing a labor shortage that needs to be addressed.
“We have to make sure we have access to skills training for people who live here and we have to become a more welcoming community to get people to move to southcentral Kansas,” Keith Lawing, executive director of the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, told the WBJ in January. “It has to be a two-fold approach.”
When the United Van Lines survey came out, many proud Kansans jumped to their state’s defense.
“I feel like family wise this is a great state to raise your kids in,” Cassidy Blew told KSN.
However, she admitted that Kansas had its downsides, such as being landlocked.
“We don’t have a beach really so I can kind of see that if they are more of a beach person,” Blew said.
9. Connecticut lost 13,166 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Spencer Platt/Getty
People moving out of Connecticut was a topic of debate in the 2018 state governor’s race.
Republican candidate Bob Sefanowski claimed that wealthy residents were leaving Connecticut because of high taxes.
But the truth may be more complicated than that.
One of the biggest issues recently has been a new federal tax law that caps deductions at $10,000 for state and local taxes. Connecticut was expected to be one of the states hardest hit by the new code, since 484,000 tax filers in the state took deductions that exceeded $10,000 in 2015, according to The CT Mirror.
Moody’s Investors Service released a report in April that shows that the cap doesn’t seem to be driving outbound migration, yet.
“Domestic migration patterns offer no discernible signs yet that the federal cap on state and local tax deductions is causing residents to flee high-tax states, resulting in population loss … and hurting states’ credit quality,” Moody’s said, according to the Hartford Courant.
Moody’s pointed out that the largest group of people leaving the state are older, wealthier residents and that the most popular state for them to move to is New York.
8. Maryland lost 16,438 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Robert Nickelsberg/Getty
Though Maryland includes many of the wealthy suburbs of Washington, DC, it’s also been struggling to combat crime in Baltimore, which could be one reason why the state has seen so much outward migration.
In 2014, Gallup conducted a poll that found that 47% of Marylanders wanted to leave the state, coming in at #3 on that list.
Earlier this year, United Van Lines released their 2018 National Movers Study, and while Maryland isn’t included in the top 10 states that are seeing the most outward migration, it is seeing more people moving out than moving in.
The biggest cause cited for people leaving Maryland was for a job (49.76%) followed by retirement (21.74%), family (19.32%), lifestyle (11.11%) and health (5.31%).
Baltimore is seeing a dramatic migration as well. Between 2015 and 2016, the city saw the population fall to a 100-year low.
William H. Grew, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Baltimore Sun that this may be due in part to the resuming migration of people to the suburbs and the South, which was paused during the recession.
7. Hawaii lost 20,129 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Kat Wade/Getty
With its lush landscape, tropical weather, and strong tourism economy, Hawaii would seem like the perfect place to move to. But instead, in 2017, for the third year in a row, the state saw a decline in population.
A January 2018 article in The Washington Post identified housing and the cost of living as the two main reasons islanders are moving to the mainland.
Census data shows that Hawaii has the highest median home value in the entire US, at $617,400. CNBC also ranked Hawaii as the state with the highest cost of living in 2018, with the cost of a half-gallon of milk coming in at $3.64.
Council member Kymberly Pine, who is chair of the Zoning and Housing Committee, told KITV in January 2018 that the issue of outward migration has hit her family too.
“I’m witnessing it with my own family. One part of my family almost three generations have moved to Vegas. And they miss Hawaii tremendously,” said Pine. “But when you just want to make ends meet and support your family, you have to do what you have to do. We’ve just got to do a better job as leaders to stop this trend.”
Pine said that one of the reasons housing prices are so high is because there is a housing shortage. Housing issues date back to post-World War II Hawaii, she said, when they were building 10,000 homes a year and there was pushback on overdevelopment.
Pine said she’s trying to combat the issue by fast-tracking affordable housing projects.
6. Massachusetts lost 21,133 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Scott Eisen/Getty
Retirees and Millennials are the two biggest groups leaving Massachusetts, according to United Van Lines’ 2018 National Movers Study.
The Bay State came it at #7 for the states that are seeing the most outbound migration.
Those moving from Massachusetts were mostly split between those 65 years and older (22.92%), and those up to the age of 34 (21.88%).
Most cited a job as the reason they were leaving (50.96%), followed by family (20.02%), lifestyle (19.43%), retirement (17.52%), and health (3.82%).
When the survey came out, local news station WWLP spoke to an Agawam, Massachusetts resident who was considering moving after his son recently returned from Tennessee and raved about the weather.
“He said Tennessee was a lot more milder and the seasons were longer other than winter,” Gary Suffriti said. “So he said he doesn’t plan on staying here. I think my wife and me are going to leave also.”
5. Louisiana lost 28,921 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Mario Tama/Getty Images
Hurricane Katrina is no doubt to blame for much of Louisiana’s outward migration in the last 15 years.
In April 2000, five years before Katrina, New Orleans’ population was 484,674. That fell by more than 50% in July 2006, when just 230,172 were still living in the city.
While New Orleans’ population rebounded a bit to 393,292 in 2017, statistics show that many decided to leave for good.
For example, right after Katrina, some 250,000 New Orleanians were moved to Houston, Texas. As of 2017, 100,000 of them remained in Houston, according to the New York Times.
Demographer Greg Rigamer told WWL.com in January 2018 that the reasons people are leaving Louisiana are driven by the job market.
“People are really hurting,” says Rigamer. “They don’t have jobs and those who have jobs are really not getting paid what their counterparts are in other states.”
4. New Jersey lost 69,278 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- John Moore/Getty
While New Jersey comes it at #4 on this list, the Garden State actually topped a recent moving company’s report on which states people are leaving the most.
In January, United Van Lines released their 2018 National Movers Study, which showed that most of their customers moving states were leaving New Jersey.
A press release for the report says that New Jersey has made the top 10 outbound states for the past decade and that most of the people leaving the state cited a “job” as their reason why (34.73%), followed closely by retirement (34.51%).
In April, North Plainfield resident Philip Perinelli wrote an op-ed for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, saying that he and his wife planned to move out of the state in the next few years because property taxes and the cost of living are so high.
“While we can afford to stay we simply choose not to. Why pay high property and income taxes, along with all the other high-cost taxes and fees when we can relocate a few miles down the road and keep all that money and spend it on well-earned travel?” Perinelli wrote.
3. California lost 137,598 residents between 2016 and 2017.
The dream of owning a home seems to be what’s driving most people out of California.
In February, Edelman Intelligence released a survey showing that 53% of Californians were considering leaving.
Sixty percent of the respondents cited housing as their main reason for wanting to leave.
“There’s no doubt that California’s economy, for all of its strengths when it comes to innovation and creating these industries that people want to be part of, is struggling with high costs,” Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist with online real estate site Zillow, said, according to CNBC. “Costs have gotten way ahead of incomes in California, and that’s making a lot of people think about whether it’s worth the hurdles.”
And then there’s the age-old problem of traffic in the Golden State.
According to a February 2018 ranking from Forbes, Los Angeles was the worst city to live in for commuters, who spend an average of 102 minutes in their car a day.
San Francisco isn’t far off. The Bay Area is #3 on the list with commuters spending about 79 minutes in their cars a day.
2. Illinois lost 142,685 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Scott Olson/Getty
People have been leaving Illinois in dramatic numbers for several years now.
The state reported a population loss for the fifth consecutive year, according to Census data released in April.
Illinois Policy, a conservative and libertarian think tank, says the data shows that mostly working-age adults are leaving the state, and blames the lack of job opportunities and high taxes for the exodus.
In January, WBEZ spoke to Juan Mendez, who moved to Indiana with his wife and kids but continues to work in Batavia, Illinois. He spends the week with his parents outside of Chicago and drives home every weekend.
Mendez said property taxes and the cost of living contributed to his family’s decision to move to Indiana.
He said he wishes he could move back to Illinois, but knows that their quality of life would be diminished there.
“It’s a really tough sell to tell my wife. I know we’ve been living in a really nice home with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths and now we’re going to go back and find something a lot smaller and downsize. That’s not something you typically equate with a promotion,” he said.
1. New York lost 164,681 residents between 2016 and 2017.
- Drew Angerer/Getty
Despite New York City being a mecca for intellectuals, creatives, and financiers – New York State itself is losing more residents than any other US state.
Between 2016 and 2017, the state’s net migration was a loss of more than 164,000 citizens.
Upstate New York seems to be the hardest hit area, with 42 of the 50 upstate counties recording a population loss since 2010, according to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
When asked about the problem in September 2018, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hypothesized that the cold winters in Upstate New York could be to blame.
“People will make demographic choices about where they want to live. Some of them are climate-based. Some of them are based for personal reasons. So the diminishing population in upstate is not new,” he said, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Cuomo made the comments as he was running for reelection. His Republican opponent in the race, Marc Molinaro, said that it was high taxes that are driving people out.
“Upstate continues to struggle with the highest burden of property taxes of any region in the country while at the same time we lead the nation in out-migration,” Molinaro said, according to Binghamton Homepage.
The New York Post spoke to emigrating New Yorkers in January, including one stay-at-home dad who cited the poor job market combined with a high cost of living as his family’s reason to leave.
At the time, 38-year-old Mike Gehm and his fiancee planned to move to Lexington, Kentucky or a smaller town in West Virginia within a month.
“Jobs are limited around here … It’s hard for me to find [one],” the stay-at-home-dad said.
He added: “I’m dropping $250 a month on electric. Everything is an outrageous price for us [up here].”
E.J. McMahon, the research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy, told the Post that “much more needs to be done to improve the basic climate for economic growth.”
“It’s just not dynamic enough to hold more of its people,” McMahon said.