The Tax Foundation has posted a nifty interactive map depicting “Migration of Personal Income” among the states. Based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data, the foundation says net migration from New York between 2000 and 2010 translated into a net loss of $45.6 billion of income.

screen-shot-2013-08-20-at-34214-pm-3777840

The explanatory text above the map says: “When a person moves to a new state, their income is added to the total of all other incomes in that state. This positively affects the total taxable income in his or her new state, and negatively affects the income in the state he or she left.”

Yes, but …

The IRS migration files track taxpayer moves among the states over two-year periods, the most recent being 2009-2010.  As explained in this IRS document, “it is important to note that the income information reported on the migration files is for the tax year corresponding to the earlier of the 2 years.”  In other words, the income considered “lost” or “gained” on the Tax Foundation map is the sum of the annual adjusted gross income (AGI) of migrants earned by filers beforethey moved.

For this reason, among others, the income migration data need to be taken with a big grain of salt. After all, very few taxpayers earn the same income two years in a row.  Some earn more, some less.  Among those likely to be earning less in 2010 than they earned in 2009 were New Yorkers retiring to Florida.  Among those earning more were young people from the midwest who landed their first full-time jobs in Manhattan during the same period.

In one of our reports on migration trends a couple of years ago, Bob Scardamalia and I noted that the IRS had tracked a net loss of $37 billion in AGI from moves in and out of New York between 2000 and 2009.  We added, however:

Incomes change over time, so this does not necessarily mean New York was $37 billion worse off at the end of the period than it would have been if no moves had occurred during this period. At the very least, however, the average incomes of migrating taxpayers reflect New York’s ongoing loss of earning power – and, in many cases, job skills — to other states. [emphasis added]

Going back to that Tax Foundation map, some of the people who fled New York in the early 2000s are now earning a lot less than they did before they left.  Others are earning more.  But the same is true of those who moved into the Empire State, including people who were recent college grads in the early 2000s.  Some people who moved out of New York moved back in (it does happen).  And others who moved into the state in, say, 2001, later moved out.  Indeed, one of New York’s chronic problems is that highly skilled, well-educated people who come here in their 20s tend to leave in early middle age.

The only way know for sure how much income New York lost from domestic migration between 2000 and 2010 in present-value terms would be to track all the (still living) individuals who moved in and out of New York between 2000 and 2010 and compute their incomes.  There’s no telling what the result would be — but it almost certainly would not add up to exactly $45.6 billion.  It quite possible would have been billions higher or lower than that.  It probably would have been a negative number in any case.

This much is beyond doubt: New York lost a net 2.9 million residents to other states between 1990 and 2010 – the biggest domestic migration outflow, relative to population, of any state during that 20-year period. People are voting with their feet, which should be (but hasn’t been) enough to jolt Albany politicians out of their complacency with the status quo.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

The Inflation Reduction Act Will Barely Move the Needle on Climate Goals

Supporters of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are at no loss for words to describe their excitement at its passage. Read More

“Inflation Reduction Act” Holds the SALT

A “skinny” version of the massive “Build Back Better” legislation proposed last year by President Biden is slated to arrive on his desk shortly. Read More

Judge, Jury and … CFO?

A state court judge at a hearing this morning will consider whether to interfere with New York City authority over its own budget by ordering a preliminary injunction that ices a portion of Gotham’s recently enacted FY 23 city budget. Read More

State Budget Back in the Red

Historically large budgetary surpluses inherited by Governor Hochul are now just a memory with New York facing projected gaps of $13.7 Billion Read More

The Numbers Don’t Add Up on Cider Solar Project

Governor Hochul has just announced approval for the state’s largest to-date solar facility, the 3,000 acre Cider Solar Farm in Genesee County Read More

New York’s health insurance affordability problem gets worse

New York's health insurance affordability gap surged to a new high last year, with state residents paying an average of 16 percent more. Read More

New York Doesn’t Need the Build Public Renewables Act

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called for a special hearing this Thursday to get more input on the Build Public Renewables Act. Read More

US economy clears a key post-pandemic hurdle, while NY still trails

Amid raging inflation and mounting recession worries, the nation's private-sector payroll jobs total finally cleared the pre-pandemic level last month. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!