Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

March 13, 2014

The great migration

SPRINGFIELD — One of my favorite books is John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

In that epic tome, farmers from across Oklahoma load up all of their earthy goods on to Model T’s and flee the Dust Bowl for California in the midst of the Great Depression.

It’s easy to see that great exodus along Route 66 as the face of migration from one state to another.

And to be sure that is one face of relocation.

Poor folks still load up dilapidated cars with what they own and seek out opportunity.

I saw it all the time when I was reporter in Las Vegas, families showing up with not much but their dreams and hopes of landing a well-paying job.

But that isn’t the only face of migration.

When corporate executives or well-heeled retirees move, it is done with professional movers.

And you can often discern who the wealthiest of these households are by the amount of furniture and other belongings they have shipped.

The Wall Street Journal recently looked at data from Allied Van Lines concerning where wealthy households were moving to and from.

The report found that Illinois and Pennsylvania have more wealthy households leaving than arriving. And California leads the nation for the net number of wealthy households migrating away.

And states gaining the most? Florida and Texas.

So what do East Coast, Midwest and West Coast states like Pennsylvania, Illinois and California have in common?

All three are high-tax states, said Joseph Henchman, a vice president at the Tax Foundation. On the other hand, Florida and Texas are much lower tax states.

“Illinois is particularly vulnerable to more out-migration because its neighbors — Wisconsin and Indiana — are busy lowering their taxes,” Henchman added.

On the other hand, the Illinois Legislature jacked up our income taxes by 67 percent back in 2011.

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