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Land of leaving: Moving companies rank Illinois No. 1 for outbound vans

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018  |  Article  |  Brendan Bakala - Illinois Policy Institute

Demographics, Census, Statistics , Economy (34) , Taxes, misc. (89)
Studies from two moving companies list Illinois as the top “outbound state” for 2017.

Studies by two major American moving companies rank Illinois as the top “outbound” state of 2017.

On Jan. 2, United Van Lines released its 41st annual National Movers Study and Atlas Van Lines released its 2017 Migration Patterns study. United based the study on its customers’ household moves made in 2017, and Atlas studied nearly 73,000 interstate and cross-border relocations of household goods from Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 15, 2017.

In both studies, Illinois was home to the highest rate of outbound moves in the nation. United’s study found that in 2017, 63 percent of Illinois moves were outbound rather than inbound, and Atlas found Illinois had an outbound rate of 62.4 percent.

These studies dovetail with recently released migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS, which show Illinois is failing to attract residents.

The U.S. Census Bureau revealed in December that Illinois is no longer the fifth-largest state in the nation, a title now held by Pennsylvania. This is due to the Land of Lincoln’s fourth consecutive year of population decline and Pennsylvania’s modest population growth. Only West Virginia has seen more consecutive years of population shrinkage than Illinois, with five.

What has caused Illinois’ population to shrink? Heavy losses of Illinoisans to other states.

The census data show Illinois experienced a net loss of nearly 115,000 people to other states from July 2016 to July 2017, costing the Prairie State one person every 4.6 minutes.

Illinoisans have cited taxes as the No. 1 reason for wanting to leave the state.

Furthermore, these aren’t simply retirees looking for warmer weather. Millennials are leading the retreat from Illinois, according to IRS data. And IRS data also show Illinois lost people on net to every neighboring state in tax year 2015.

This ongoing migration crisis is eroding Illinois’ tax base. In the 2015 tax year alone, Illinois lost a record $4.75 billion in income to other states on net, according to IRS data.

State lawmakers should seek to correct policy mistakes that have made Illinois an undesirable place to live for so many. One of the most pressing issues is the Prairie State’s property taxes, which are among the highest in the country and are often equivalent to a second mortgage residents can never pay off.

Passing a property tax freeze on homeowners’ actual bills (not just the levies of local governments) and requiring voter approval for property tax hikes are two powerful reforms that would go a long way for Illinois families dealing with stagnant incomes.

Without reform, as Illinois loses more and more residents to outmigration, the property tax burden will only increase on those families and businesses that remain in the state.