Wisconsin badgers Illinois millennials to hop the state border

Wisconsin badgers Illinois millennials to hop the state border

A new ad campaign by the Badger State digs into millennials’ growing disillusion with the Land of Lincoln.

Chicago’s millennial demographic was greeted with a message from the north this January: abandon ship.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Wisconsin has begun an ad blitz touting the Badger State as an alternative for Chicago millennials. The campaign includes ads on public transit, a sweep of posters appearing in health clubs downtown and on drink coasters in bars and restaurants. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has invested nearly $1 million in media buys to disseminate its message – to leave long commutes and high living expenses behind – over the course of a six-month campaign.

It doesn’t bode well for the Land of Lincoln that Illinois millennials are already leaving for other states. A 2016 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute study found that 57 percent of Illinois millennials, defined as those under age 35, desire to leave the state.

IRS data reveal that millennials, rather than retirees, are leading the Illinois exodus. Between tax years 2011 and 2014 alone (2011-2012 through 2014-2015), Illinois millennial-aged taxpayers and their dependents accounted for more than 81,000 net losses to other states. Further, Wisconsin has been one of the top net gainers of Illinois taxpayers over the last several years, according to IRS data.

Chicago’s archaic attitude toward millennial-cherished conveniences such as food trucks and home-sharing certainly doesn’t help its cause, nor do Illinois’ sky-high property taxes that punish first-time homeowners.

Chicago is a city rich with creativity, ingenuity and drive. Unfortunately, it seems possible that Wisconsin understands this better than Illinois lawmakers do.

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