The United States is ever-evolving. Jobs are being moved around, costs of living fluctuating, and climates changing, resulting in mass exoduses from certain states. Here are the twenty-three that people are fleeing the most quickly.
The birthplace of Walmart and Bill Clinton, Arkansas's outbound moves are at a whopping 49.7%. Despite giving the nation one of its largest retailers, the southern state's job market is notably bleak. After requiring Medicaid recipients to hold down a job in order to receive benefits, Arkansas faced criticism, as many noted that the job prospects were too bleak in order to find work. Indeed, 71% of people moving out of the state cited a lack of work as their reason for leaving.
Horror novelist Stephen King's home state has a 50.6% outbound move rate, but not because of jobs. Rather, its Maine's cold climate that's pushing people away, particularly the elderly. 59% of those leaving the Pine Tree State are sixty-five or older, and they typically cite Maine's icy, blustering winters as a reason for seeking a different home for their retirement years. And Maine's summer months aren't much better—they tend to be overrun with ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and other pests.
The Show-Me State has a whopping 51% outbound moves percentage, reflecting the loss of jobs in St. Louis's home. 63% of movers say they were motivated to leave Missouri by job prospects, and in Kansas City alone, 1.9% of manufacturing jobs have been lost. This is due to a mass closing of factories in the area, including a Harley Davidson factory that shut down this past May and put 800 people out of work. Missouri's climate doesn't help—the weather swings between arid, blistering summers and bone chilling, icy winters.
20. North Dakota
North Dakota already has the distinction of being one of the most sparsely populated states in the union. Its outbound moves percentage of 51.3% is unlikely to help this distinction. While most states push their residents out due to a lack of jobs, North Dakota's unemployment rate is only at a 2.5%. So why leave? Simple: it's boring. The wide, empty fields offer little to do, resulting in 61% of those leaving the state citing lifestyle as their reason for moving.
Virginia's D.C suburbs may be booming, but the rest of the state…isn't. The eldest of the thirteen colonies boasts a 51.6% outbound moves rate. Rural areas bear the brunt of population loss, over half of which is to find better jobs. Another quarter move to be closer to relatives, and yet another because they'd prefer to retire elsewhere. This is of particular interest, because Virginia is actually a fairly good state for retirees—it boasts low taxes and a fairly mild climate, with an appealing mix of mountains and beaches. Despite this, 26% of those leaving are over sixty five.
Most famous for its plethora of Mormons, Utah's 51.7% outbound moves rate is actually an improvement—it used to rank number nine on lists of states citizens were eager to get away from. Despite making mild improvements, the Beehive State has a ways to go. A combination of poor job prospects and rising housing costs is pushing many away. 65% of movers cite economic reasons for leaving the state, and a single family home in Salt Lake City costs $358,000, making families wary to settle there.
17. West Virginia
West Virginia has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. 56% of the state's outbound movers are forty-four and under, and 73% of them cite outside job prospects as their reason for leaving. Sadly, West Virginia is also one of the states that has been most strongly hit by the opioid crisis, taking a toll on employers and employees alike and contributing to the 51.8% outbound movement rate.
Warren Buffet may call the Cornhusker State home, but many more have jumped ship. 52.6% are moving out of the state, and 70% of those people leave in search of work. There's good reason for them to leave: Nebraska's job growth rate is a measly .8% percent, and those jobs don't usually pay particularly well. This has resulted in a “brain drain”—Nebraskans with higher education are frustrated by the lack of jobs and leave for other states.
Maryland's 53.1% outbound move rate is largely due to its unsuitability for the elderly. Indeed, it has the dubious distinction of being the worst state for retirees, resulting in 50% of the movers in 2018 being aged fifty-five or older. Maryland has soaring home costs, some of the most costly health insurance premiums in the country, and extremely high taxes, pushing many Marylanders out. State governor Larry Hogan has come up with a proposal that may get people to stay. He wants to cut taxes by $500 million in the next five years.
Kentucky, like its neighbor West Virginia, is one of the poorest states in the nation. The high unemployment rate, combined with the stagnant minimum wage (a measly $7.25 an hour), has led to a mass exodus from the Bluegrass State. The vast majority of movers leave to find a better job. Despite the bleakness of the state's 53.5% outbound moves rate, Kentucky officials are cautiously optimistic: jobs have begun to open up in secondary education, healthcare, and the bourbon industry.
A startling 54% have said “Goodbye, Wisconsin!” Despite a fairly low cost of living and steadily rising job prospects, Wisconsin also has some of the highest and most rapidly rising housing costs in the nation. Combined with the extremely harsh winters, many Wisconsinites have decided to move to greener-and warmer-pastures. This is particularly true of the over-fifty crowd: over half of those who moved out of the state in 2018 were fifty five or older.
Thomas Jefferson's risky purchase is known for Mardi Gras and good food. Yet many are leaving the Bayou for better economic prospects. The 54.3% outbound movers rate is related to the stagnant job market and high taxes: non-agricultural jobs only grew .1% between 2018 and 2019, and Louisiana's sales tax—a whopping 9.46%—is the second highest in the nation. These factors have resulted in 70.8% of movers citing economic reasons for their departure.
California is one of the most expensive states to live in, resulting in a 54.4% outbound movers rate. Jobs account for 41% of outbound movers, and with good reason: California was ranked last in the nation for business friendliness by CNBC and 49th out of 50 for cost of living. In a bucking of historical precedence, 22% of outbound movers are retirees, who have since decided to ditch Cali's sunny-yet-expensive beaches for its Pacific Northwest and Mountain West neighbors.
The collapse of the American auto industry directly led to Michigan's 55% outbound moves rate. Following the collapse of General Motors, the Wolverine State's job prospects have begun to suffer. Half of 2018's movers cited job prospects, while another sizable percentage cited a lack of public transit. Furthermore, Michigan is ranked no. 7 by the Joint Economic Committee for “brain drain”—younger, more educated workers are leaving the state en masse for greener economic pastures.
Montana shares Michigan's 55% outbound moves percentage. While Montana's cost of living is still much lower when compared with other states in the union, it has skyrocketed in recent years. Combined with difficult to find housing and jobs, with the majority of options being low-paying, seasonal tourism and oil jobs, Montanans are finding it difficult to stay. Furthermore, Montana is extremely isolated—in fact, the top reason for moving out in 2018 was to be closer to family. Healthcare is also hard to come by-there are only 2.3 doctors for every 1,000 residents, resulting in concerns.
Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk's future-home state has a whopping 55.5% outbound movement rate. Despite its growing job market, three-quarters of movers cite jobs as their reason for leaving. This is because, despite the fact there are more jobs, those jobs don't pay very well—even in very in-demand fields, such as technology. Combined with rising costs of living, many Iowans are jumping ship. This is particularly true of the 18-34 crowd, who cite both low pay, poor infrastructure, and a lack of things to do as their reasons for leaving.
Massachusetts boasts some of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. This results in insanely high student loans, which, combined with an ultra-high cost of living, make it difficult for young people to make ends meet. Older people aren't pleased with the high costs either. Nor are they fond of the New England state's extremely harsh winters, resulting in the fifty five and up crowd leading the pack out of Massachusetts. Another factor is the driving—Massachusetts has terrible traffic congestion, and according to one study, Boston's drivers and traffics are the worst in the nation.
The Buckeye State's 56.5% outbound movement rate largely comes from economic causes. While Ohio has a reputation for being welcoming and has a fairly low cost of living, it also has high unemployment and slow job growth. Combined with long, cold, gray winters and a lack of access to adequate healthcare for many, six out of ten Ohioans decide to leave to find work elsewhere. The other 40% tend to cite retirement concerns as their reason for leaving.
Dorothy Gale may have wanted nothing more than to go back to Kansas, but many more are picking up Toto and getting out. Kansas boasts a 58.7% outbound movers rate. While Kansas has a low unemployment rate—only 3.2%, as of August 2019—and low cost of living, 64% of movers cite jobs as their reasons for leaving. This is because, despite steady employment, there is a lack of salary advancement. Furthermore, as in The Wizard of Oz, Kansas is plagued by tornadoes.
4. New York
The Empire State may be where dreams are made of, but 61.5% can't take the hustle and bustle. Costs of living are as high as Manhattan's skyscrapers and only continue to grow with increased gentrification in the other burroughs, particularly Queens and Brooklyn. Upstate New York doesn't fair much better—the winters are extremely bitter, and rural areas face economic depression and extreme job scarcity. Furthermore, New York's taxes are some of the highest in the nation. New Yorkers are certainly taking notice—according to Bloomberg, 300 people move out of NYC every day.