People are voting with their feet


The story of Illinois’ steady out-migration problem is well known, but just where are Illinoisans moving to? Is the outflow driven entirely by retirees and beach-goers moving to Florida? Not according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which just released its 2012 American Community Survey of state-to-state migration flow data. These data use census surveys to make estimates of migration flow between the states.

The No. 1 destination for Illinois out-migrants: Indiana.

The data show that in 2012, Illinois had a net loss of residents to each of its neighboring states, and that Illinois had a greater net loss to Indiana than to any other state in the union.

Indiana doesn’t offer the warm climate of destinations such as Florida and Texas. Illinoisans cross the border because of policy failures. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley correctly predicted that raising the corporate tax rate to the fourth-highest in the nation would drive residents and business across the border. Workers’ compensation costs in Illinois are also the fourth-highest nationally, while Indiana has the second-lowest rates. Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa are Right-to-Work states, and ending forced-unionism is becoming a hot issue in Missouri. Illinois’ overall regulatory burden ranks it 42nd-best nationally, and residents pay the ninth-highest tax burden of any state.

In short, Illinois stands out from its neighbors as the state doing the least to create opportunity for its citizens through common-sense economic reform.

The census data align with the United Van Lines moving data to show that the pace of outflow is high. On net, Illinois lost 69,198 residents to other states, with 33,099 of those net losses flowing to neighboring states. The most significant neighborhood losses were to Indiana (11,529, first overall), Missouri (8,737, third overall) and Wisconsin (7,871, fourth overall).

Neighboring states have made changes to better accommodate business growth and personal opportunities. Massive out-migration from Illinois shows that an increasing number of residents have become exhausted with business as usual in Illinois, and have cast their final vote with their feet.

Michael Lucci
Director of Jobs and Growth





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