Americans Continue to “Vote with their Feet” on Lockdown and Economic Policies
According to recently released new Census Bureau data, taxpayers in states with stringent COVID-19 lockdown policies and higher cost-of-living “voted with their feet” in favor of states with less stringent or no lockdowns and lower cost-of-living.
Texas was the biggest winner with its population growing by 310,288 residents between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. This is hardly shocking, as Texas is the top-ranked state for Economic Performance in Rich States, Poor States. Florida – ranked 2nd for Economic Outlook – also made substantial gains with population growth of 211,196 over the same time period. As a result of Americans “voting with their feet” over the last decade, Florida and Texas each gained seats during Congressional reapportionment. .
New York on the other hand, was the biggest loser, losing 319,020 residents on net between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. California likewise saw a mass exodus, with its population declining by 261,902 during the same timeframe. The dismal economic policies of California and New York contributed to each state losing a Congressional seat as residents searched for economic opportunity in other states.
Furthermore, a new study from United Van Lines suggests that Americans aren’t just moving to warm weather states like Texas and Florida. For example, the study found 69% of moves in South Dakota in 2021 were inbound from other states. South Dakota is beautiful, but it is unlikely taxpayers are moving there for the subzero winter weather. It’s more likely because of South Dakota’s commitment to pro-growth economic policies. South Dakota is one of only two states that doesn’t collect personal or corporate income taxes. In addition, Governor Kristi Noem kept South Dakota open during the pandemic. This is one of several reasons Governor Noem ranked number one in the 2021 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s Governors.
During the pandemic, taxpayers sought to escape stringent lockdowns and other policies that stifle their economic opportunities. Many of them left their states with the mentality of “anywhere but here.” That’s one way to explain the high percentage of inbound moves in states like Vermont (74.3%) and Oregon (60.5%). In all but two editions of Rich States, Poor States, Vermont ranks better than neighboring New York. The same can be said for Oregon with regard to neighboring California. In fact, Oregon gained so many Californian refugees over the last decade that it gained a Congressional seat after reapportionment.
The population growth of Texas, Florida, South Dakota and others during the pandemic can be attributed to their commitment to reopening (or, in South Dakota’s case, never closing) their economies, as well as their longstanding commitment to pro-growth economic policies. For example, none of these states impose a tax on personal income. Residents of big government states see better futures for themselves in states where taxes are low, government spending is under control, and government doesn’t try to force businesses to close. Limited government, free market states will continue to see an influx of residents seeking to live where the grass is greener.