U-Haul rental rates reflect Illinois’ out-migration crisis
Chicagoans’ strong demand for one-way moves to Houston, Texas, and to Naples, Fla., is driving up moving-truck rental costs.
Illinois’ most valuable export is people, and the state is on the losing end of that trade. Illinoisans are fleeing the state at alarming rates, causing the state’s population to shrink. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Illinois lost 105,000 more people to other states than it gained from July 2014 to July 2015. Internal Revenue Service data also indicate that those leaving Illinois have higher average salaries than those moving in.
The continuous outflow of Illinoisans indicates generally weak statewide industry. But one sector is doing fine: the moving-truck industry.
Moving-truck rental rates are a measure of the demand for one-way moves out of Illinois. As any first-year economics student knows, higher demand yields higher prices. U-Haul’s website provides free quotes that allow users to easily compare rental rates for various one-way moves. As such, the tool can be used to compare Illinois’ current demand for outward mobility with that of other states.
According to IRS data, Texas is the most popular relocation destination for fleeing Illinoisans, followed by Florida – both of which have comparatively friendly business and tax environments.
U-Haul rental rates suggest that demand for U-Haul rentals from Chicago to Houston is much higher than the demand for rentals in the opposite direction. The rental rates for a one-way move from Chicago to Houston are more than two times higher than rental rates for a one-way move from Houston to Chicago.
Rental rates from Chicago to the Sunshine State are three times higher than rental rates in the opposite direction.
Notably, there is much less difference in rental rates between Chicago and Los Angeles. L.A., like Chicago, has a poor economic environment, in terms of high taxes and debt and pension crises, compared with other cities. However, whereas in 2014, rental rates were higher for moves from L.A. to Chicago, the rental rate for a 15-foot moving truck from Chicago to L.A. is now higher than the rental rate in the opposite direction.
These U-Haul rental rates suggest that high numbers of Chicagoans are leaving Illinois for better opportunities elsewhere.
The state’s exodus of residents is unparalleled in other Midwestern and neighboring states, which continue to experience population growth even as Illinois’ population shrinks. To put Illinois’ out-migration crisis in perspective, the state loses one person to out-migration every five minutes, on net.
Why does Illinois fare so poorly in the ongoing “border wars”? A recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute reveals that roughly half of Illinoisans want to leave the state – and taxes are the leading motivation. These findings are consistent with the high demand for U-Haul rentals out of Chicago toward cities and states with better job opportunities and lower taxes.
Until Illinois adopts more pro-growth policies, lack of opportunities and crippling taxes will continue to drive Illinois families out of the Land of Lincoln – and out-migration will continue to threaten the state’s financial health and economic growth.