Voting With Their Feet

Earlier this week I commented that “The folks who are sick and tired of it [California’s Blue State blues] have been voting with their feet. The back fill from the other 49 still have stars in their eyes.”  Here is the substantiation of that assertion:


By  Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox , the NewGeography

When comparing the health of state economies, we usually look at employment and incomes. Another critical indicator worth closer attention is where Americans choose to move, and the places they are leaving.

Indeed it is, and the Blue States are not doing well in this measure.

The Big Winners: The Sunbelt And Texas

To measure the states that are most attractive to Americans on the move, we developed an “attraction” ratio that measures the number of domestic in-migrants per 100 out-migrants. A state that has a rating of 100 would be perfectly balanced between those leaving and coming.

Overall, the biggest winner — both in absolute numbers and in our ranking —  is Texas. In 2014 the Lone Star State posted a remarkable 156 attraction ratio, gaining 229,000 more migrants than it lost, roughly twice as many as went to No. 3 Florida, which clocked an impressive 126.7 attraction ratio.

The Biggest Losers

High costs go a long way to explain which states are losing the most migrants. At the top, or rather, the bottom of the list is New York State, which had an abysmal 65.4 attraction ratio in 2014 and lost by far the most net migrants, an astounding 126,000 people. Close behind was Illinois, a high tax, high regulation, and low growth disaster area. In 2014 the Land of Lincoln had an abysmal 67.2 attraction ratio, losing a net 82,000 domestic migrants.

Most of the other top people-exporting states are in the Northeast and Midwest. But the West, traditionally the magnet for newcomers, now also has some major losers, including Alaska (80.1), New Mexico (84.6) and Wyoming (88.6). The outflow for some of these western states may get worse, unless prices for natural resources like coal, oil, gas and minerals do not recover in the near future.

And then there is the big enchilada, California. For generations, the Golden State developed a reputation as the ultimate destination of choice for millions of Americans. No longer. Since 2000 the state has lost 1.75 million net domestic migrants, according to Census Bureau estimates. And even amid an economic recovery, the pattern of outmigration continued in 2014, with a loss of 57,900 people and an attraction ratio of 88.5, placing the Golden State 13th from the bottom, well behind longtime people exporters Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisiana. California was a net loser of domestic migrants in all age categories.

Nor is that the depths of that particular demographic bad news.


by Joel Kotkin, the NewGeography

But if you take a look at long-term economic trends, or drive around the state with your eyes open, the picture is far less convincing. To be sure since 2010, California’s job growth has outperformed the national average, propelled largely by the tech-driven Bay Area; its 14% employment expansion over the past six years is just a shade below Texas’. But dial back to 2001, and California’s job growth rate is 12%, less than half that of Texas’ 27%. With roughly 10 million fewer residents, Texas has created almost 2.8 million jobs since the turn of the millennium, compared to 2.0 million in California.

“It’s not a California miracle, but really should be called a Silicon Valley miracle,” says Chapman University forecaster Jim Doti. “The rest of the state really isn’t doing well.”

Even in Silicon Valley, the share of the population in the middle class has dropped from 56% of all households to 45.7%, according to a recent report by the California Budget Center. Both the lower and upper income portions grew significantly; today lower-income residents represent 34.8% of the population compared to 19.5% affluent.

The first article goes on to explain a large part of the discrepancy

Where’s The Money Going?

Some analysts have claimed that the people leaving California are mostly poor while the more affluent are still coming. The 2014 IRS data shows something quite different. To be sure the Golden State, with its deindustrializing economy and high costs, is losing many people making under $50,000 a year, but it is also losing people earning over $75,000, with the lowest attractiveness ratios among those making between $100,000 and $200,000 annually, slightly less than those with incomes of $10,000 to $25,000.

Bobby Sue took the money and ran.

As should we all.


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  • jim_m

    My experience is that the higher paid, more skilled positions are refusing to come into the state. The people who do relocate are typically, lower level jobs and support administrative positions.

    Recently, our President of Global Commercial Operations moved out of state. The crime rate is insane. This past week an admin assistant had her car broken into and her laptop stolen when she stopped to go into a fast food place for breakfast. There were at least 2 police cruisers in the parking lot when it happened. Nobody cares. The police are too busy bagging 16YO hookers to be bothered with actual crime.

    This should come as no surprise as California ranks 49th on Cato’s ranking of freedom. California is a hell hole.

  • LiberalNightmare

    The problem is that when they are driven out of their leftist utopias by high crime, high taxes, and low employment, they keep their ideology. so they wind up voting their new home into the same kind of shit hole that they just left.

    • That certainly has obtained to some degree along the West Coast. It seems to be less pervasive with those heading to Texas and the South…

  • yetanotherjohn

    Why Texas is ranked number one is not from just one cause, but the fact that Texas hasn’t elected a democrat to statewide office in over 20 years is salient. Think about that, no democrats as senator, governor, attorney general, etc. for over 20 years. Of course we also have GOP majorities in the state legislatures. Is Texas ideal in all respects? No, but it is number one in attraction rating.

    • I intend to move back to Texas upon retirement, if not sooner.

      • Scalia

        Great state…and great restaurants too!

        • If there is a cuisine not represented by one or more top notch resteraunts here in the Bay Area, I don’t know what cuisine that would be. They can be pricey, but the eating around here is very good.

          I didn’t find that to be true when I was living in Texas back in the mid nineties…

          • yetanotherjohn

            It really depends on where you are in Texas. Smaller towns, fewer choices. Houston, Austin or Dallas may not have as many 5 star restaurants for a given cuisine, but I bet you can find a place you like. New Braunsfels has good German food.
            On the other hand, my visits to California didn’t have much in the way of BBQ, tex-mex or “homestyle” which probably are much better in Texas anyway.

          • Those are to be had here, but one must know where to look.