Illinois logged a record exodus in 2014, sustaining a net loss of 95,000 people to other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And two of North America’s largest moving companies revealed data showing that Illinois’ rate of outbound traffic spiked in 2014, confirming the Census Bureau’s numbers.
As a result of massive out-migration, Illinois’ population shrank by 10,000 people from July 2013-July 2014. This means that more people fled Illinois than were born in Illinois in 2014. The state’s population had not decreased since 1988.
Illinois’ net loss of 95,000 residents is so large that it defies belief, and speaks to the fact that Illinois has the worst job-creation rate in the Midwest in 2014, with food-stamp enrollment also hitting new record highs. Although Illinois has been a net loser of residents as far back as such data are recorded, never has the state lost so many people in one year.
Only New York lost more people to net migration, as the two states once again battled it out to be the nation’s largest exporter of talent. Meanwhile, states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and the Carolinas happily herded more of the nation’s talent pool across their borders.
Two of nation’s three largest moving companies, United Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines, corroborated the census data. Both moving companies show the rate of outbound traffic from Illinois spiked to new highs in 2014. Atlas and United respectively showed that Illinois ranked second and third-highest for the outbound rate nationally, with New York coming in last in for both moving companies.
The stunning data underscore an important point as power shifts to Governor-elect Bruce Rauner: Illinois cannot raise taxes on a population that is shrinking due to massive numbers of people leaving. We know the number one reason Illinoisans leave is for better job and business opportunities, according to Gallup.
Illinois has hit an inflection point in its economic crisis. The need to completely sunset the 2011 tax hikes could not be more apparent. Not only that, the state needs to take further steps towards lowering the overall tax burden, slashing the prohibitive cost of regulation and making it easier to start a business here.
Local governments need to step up too, and make moves to encourage entrepreneurship and the local shared economy.
Fresh ideas in the governor’s office make reform more likely, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical time. Illinois’ need for economic reform is tremendous and systemic.