According to a study by United Van Lines, in 2020, Kansas ranked sixth among the 50 states in the percentage of people moving out of the state — roughly tied with California at 59%.

According to the study, which tracks the company’s exclusive data for customers’ 2020 state-to-state migration patterns, Idaho was the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration (70%) among states experiencing more than 250 moves with United Van Lines for the second consecutive year. Topping the list of outbound locations was New Jersey (70% outbound), which has held the spot for the past three years.

Among the top inbound states were South Carolina (64%), Oregon (63%), South Dakota (62%) and Arizona (62%), while New York (67%), Illinois (67%), Connecticut (63%) and California (59%) were among the states experiencing the largest exoduses.

This has been a pattern for a considerable time, but 59% is an increase of half a percentage point over 2019 and almost three percentage points over 2018.

Part of the problem is one of the highest tax burdens in the country, according to Kansas State Senator Richard Hilderbrand.

“Until the state of Kansas addresses the fact that Kansans pay some of the highest taxes in the nation,” Hilderbrand, (R-Baxter Springs), said. “We can expect to continue to see this trend.”

Kansas has the 8th highest state and local sales tax rate in the nation, some of the highest electric and utility rates in the region, and while state income taxes are about in the middle of the pack in the U.S., property taxes are not — with Kansas having some of the highest rural property tax rates in the country.

Exacerbating this, is over-government and over-spending by state and local governments, according to Dave Trabert, CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute (the Sentinel’s owner).

Trabert said in July of this year, that tax rates are a direct reflection of how much cities, counties, and states choose to spend.

“Every state provides the same basic services, but those that spend more have to tax more.  For example, the states with an income tax spent 55% more per resident in 2018 than the states without an income tax.  Our 2020 Green Book shows Kansas spent 40% more per resident than the states without an income tax.”

KPI’s Green Book shows Kansas has some of the highest effective property tax rates in the nation, which Trabert also attributes to excessive local government spending.

“Local sales tax and property tax rates are unnecessarily high because Kansas is massively over-governed.  Kansas has 36% more local government employees per capita than the national average.”

Indeed, UVLs numbers seem to bear that out as over 47 percent of those who moved out of the state did so for a job, while only 44 percent of those who moved in did so.

The top outbound states were also all high-tax, high-regulation states.

Leading Kansas were New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut and California. North Dakota is an outlier, in seventh as a low tax state, but the collapse of the oil market thanks to pandemic restrictions likely exacerbated out-migration there. Rounding out the top ten were Massachusetts, Ohio and Maryland.

The top inbound states were all low-tax states, largely in the south or west. In order the top ten were Idaho, South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas.

“United Van Lines’ data makes it clear that migration to western and southern states, a prevalent pattern for the past several years, persisted in 2020,” said Michael A. Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. “However, we’re seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt accelerated broader moving trends, including retirement driving top inbound regions as the Baby Boomer generation continues to reach that next phase of life.”

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