Study: Illinois among top states to see residents flee

Study: Illinois among top states to see residents flee

A third moving company ranked Illinois as a prime place to abandon during 2020. State leaders can control the exodus if they reform spending.

The Illinois exodus is continuing through the COVID-19 pandemic, with Illinois losing 40% more people than it gained in 2020, ranking it fourth-worst in the nation, according to new research from Hire a Helper, a California-based moving company.

That new finding was lower than recent surveys by other moving companies. United Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines both reported over 60% of the interstate moves they handled for Illinoisans were outbound in 2020.

Even accounting for COVID-19 deaths, U.S. Census data showed 2020 outmigration was the largest Illinois has seen since World War II.

Illinois suffered the worst year for jobs in state history during 2020, shedding 423,300 jobs (-6.9%) during the year. These job losses weren’t just confined to certain areas of the state: every metropolitan area saw jobs decline.

Illinois’ poor economy and high taxation are prime reasons for moving.

High taxes were the No. 1 reason nearly half of Illinoisans thought about leaving when the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute asked the question in 2016.

State fiscal strain from the ongoing pension crisis, COVID-19 associated closures and a shrinking tax base mean more of the tax burden shifts to Illinoisans who chose to stay or cannot afford to leave. Not only does population loss cost remaining taxpayers more, but the state’s budget deficit also grows.

Property taxes have driven out Robert Hill’s family members. Illinois’ property taxes are the nation’s second highest.

“Around 2007, my sister moved to Indiana. Very recently, my mom and my aunt also moved to Indiana,” said Hill, of DeKalb. “My mom couldn’t retire in this state due to the tax rates, specifically property taxes.”

Hill said he’s remained out of a sense of duty to his fellow Illinoisans who can’t afford to move away.

“As more family and friends leave, the question becomes even harder to answer: ‘Why are you staying here?’”

Hire A Helper also reported that nationwide:

  • 25% of the moves during 2020 were related to the pandemic.
  • About 35% of the COVID-19-related moves were out of financial hardship, with another one-third moving to look after family members.
  • The pandemic delayed moves, bumping up fall moves by 30% over a year earlier.

If Illinois wants to curb population loss, it needs to fix its finances and stop taxes from being such a drag on jobs and the economy. What it doesn’t need are nine new taxes costing nearly $1 billion, mainly targeted at job creators, being proposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

A constitutional amendment to curb the future growth of public pensions would be a major step towards curbing property taxes as well as state taxation. Pension reform will also protect retirees, as well as stop pension spending from continuing to take resources away from classrooms, child protection and other services for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Those fixes will make it easier for Hill and other Illinoisans to decide to stay.

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