California’s Outbound Migration Continues, With Some In-State Diversions
The states with no income taxes gained the greatest wealth, while the states with the highest income taxes lost the most
With Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots breaking out across California, some city dwellers are longing for safer neighborhoods, and safer towns. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer, radicals in BLM and Antifa – which ironically stands for “anti-Fascist” – used Floyd’s death as an opportunity and excuse to wreak havoc.
For many Californians, the final straw came sooner, as more than 691,145 Californians left the state in 2018. Texas nabbed 86,164 former Californians that year, according to an Orange County Register report. “Census Bureau migration data for 2018 shows in raw terms of people moving, the top spot for Californians is Texas, which got 86,164 Californians in 2018. Next came Arizona (68,516), Washington (55,467), Nevada (50,707), and Oregon (43,058). All told, California had the most exits among the state and that wave grew by 4% in a year.”The California Legislative Analyst also reported that for many years, more Californians have left for other states than move here. According to data from the American Community Survey, from 2007 to 2016, about 5 million people moved to California from other states, while about 6 million left California. On net, the state lost 1 million residents to domestic migration—about 2.5 percent of its total population.
Now we are starting to see outbound migration from California’s big cities to smaller cities and towns, and to the state’s rural counties – if they even choose to stay in California.
Real Estate agents regularly report trends, and Carol Butler, who owns 50Cabins.com and is a Resort & Second Home Specialist, says that now that people realize that they can work from home, many are choosing to make their primary home in a beautiful place outside of a big city. “I’m selling more primary homes in Tahoe and El Dorado County, and I’m a Resort & Second Home Specialist!” Butler said. “It’s as busy as ever; I just wish we had more inventory! The economy here is surprisingly strong for the Tahoe and surrounding area market.”
Butler said the other benefit is the “perceived safety” outside of big cities. The riots did not make it to El Dorado County, although she said there were a few BLM protesters in South Lake Tahoe – but no violence or destruction.
Butler noted that the cabins and mountain homes she usually sells to second home buyers, are being purchased by primary home buyers now. “And those sellers are leaving California!”
We know why California companies leave for other states: Chief Executive Magazine reports year after year that when CEOs across the country are surveyed, they name California as the worst state in the country in which to have to do business. California has the highest-in-the-nation taxes, one of the highest business tax climates, with the Tax Foundation ranking California at No. 49 – the second worst in the nation, ahead only of New Jersey.
California’s 13.3% income tax rate is the highest marginal tax rate in the nation. And when you add in up to 37% federal taxes, living in California is expensive right off the top, and especially now that we cannot deduct state taxes against the federal.
Sacramento real estate agent Stephen G. reports he is seeing more and more home sellers leaving for other states. Initially the reasons were primarily due to the high cost of living in California. After the statewide lockdown, with schools and businesses closed for months, and then the riots the last two weeks, he said he expects to see more people reaching a tipping point, making the decision to move out of state.
Relocation specialist Joe Vranich, who used to live in California, for years has documented the outbound migration of businesses. “Business-flight appears to have gotten worse since I issued my recent report, ‘Why Companies Leave California’, which found that at least 13,000 companies moved out of state during the 2008-2016 period (the latest available figures),” Vranich wrote for Fox and Hounds last year. “The cost: $76.7 billion in capital was diverted out of California along with 275,000 Jobs – and companies acquired at least 133 million square feet of space elsewhere. All of those findings are greatly understated because relevant information often went unreported in source materials.”
Vranich knows how and why businesses leave California:
“California’s current crop of politicians point to the occasional economic development ‘win’ with pride while ignoring the overall business migration to other states. Let’s be candid about who they are – business-hostile Democrats who’ve never run a business, never raised capital, never built a building, never met a payroll, never arranged for employee health-care policies, never sold a product or service, never competed with lower-priced foreign competitors, and never paid any of the countless taxes and fees imposed by various levels of government.”
“Between 1995 and 2010, millions of Americans moved between the states, taking with them over $2 trillion in adjusted gross incomes,” author Travis Brown says in “How Money Walks: How $2 Trillion Moved Between the States, and Why It Matters.”
“Two trillion dollars is equivalent to the GDP of California, the ninth largest in the world. It’s a lot of money. Some states, like Florida, saw tremendous gains ($86.4 billion), while others, like New York, experienced massive losses ($58.6 billion). People moved, and they took their working wealth with them.”
“Money—and people—moved from high-tax states to low-tax ones. And the tax that seemed to matter the most? The personal income tax. The states with no income taxes gained the greatest wealth, while the states with the highest income taxes lost the most. Why does this matter? Because the robust presence of working wealth is the leading indicator of economic health.”
According to “How Money Walks,” California lost $58.63 billion in annual adjusted gross income.
Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?