Michigan Migration in a Holding Pattern

United Van Lines released its annual accounting of where American households are moving and Michigan ranked as the 6th highest state in outbound traffic in 2012.

That is a modest improvement over 2011, when the Great Lake State was ranked 4th. Specifically, 58 percent of all United Van Lines 2012 Michigan-related moves are outbound.

The good news is that this isn't the most recent improvement in the state's ranking. From 2006 through 2009, Michigan ranked as the company's No. 1 state for outbound moving traffic.

Also, by making this state a more attractive place for investors and entrepreneurs to locate job-producing enterprises, the adoption of a right-to-work law bodes well for workers here, making it less likely they’ll have to move elsewhere for opportunity. Over time, right-to-work states have experienced far higher rates of net inbound migration: From 2000 through 2009 they gained 5 million people who had moved from non-right-to-work states.

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Rigorous statistical analyses performed for his 2010 Cato Journal article “Right-to-Work Laws: Liberty, Prosperity, and Quality of Life” by economist Richard Vedder support this speculation. After controlling for the many factors that influence people’s decision to move, he concluded: “Without exception, in all the estimations, a statistically significant positive relationship … was observed between the presence of right-to-work laws and net migration.”

United Van Lines identified the top five highest outbound traffic states in the continental U.S. as New Jersey, Illinois, West Virginia, New York and New Mexico and the highest inbound states (if you include the District of Columbia) as Washington D.C., Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The Mackinac Center has done a statistical analysis of United Van Lines data and actual Census data in the past and found the two to be highly correlated.

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