Michigan Tops Nation in 2006 Outbound Move Rate According to New United Van Lines Data

State’s outbound move rate even higher than in 2005; Michigan tied for highest rate with North Dakota; problem is “issue of opportunity,” say Mackinac Center analysts

For Immediate Release

Michael D. LaFaive, Director of Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative
Phone: 989-631-0900

MIDLAND — Michigan residents continue to leave the state at alarming rates that have accelerated since 2005, according to Mackinac Center for Public Policy analysis of data released this morning from United Van Lines, America’s largest household mover. In 2006, 66 percent of United Van Lines’ Michigan-related moves took households out of Michigan, rather than into the state, tying Michigan with North Dakota for the highest rate of outbound moves in the continental United States. Michigan’s UVL outbound rate was second highest in the nation in 2005, and the continued exodus in 2006 prompted Mackinac Center scholars to caution policymakers against raising the price of living, working and investing in Michigan.

Mackinac Center Adjunct Scholar Michael Hicks, a professional econometrician, has found United Van Lines and U.S. Census data to be highly correlated, making UVL data a helpful leading indicator of migration patterns. Using Internal Revenue Service data, Hicks and Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director Michael D. LaFaive also found that Florida may have become the number one destination state of Michigan expatriates, with 14 percent of all 2004 moves going to the Sunshine State. "Indeed," Hicks noted, "14 percent is such a significant percentage that there is more than retirement going on here. This is an issue of opportunity."

"Michigan residents continue to flee the Great Lake State for opportunity elsewhere," said LaFaive. "Policymakers in Lansing would be ill-advised to give job providers or people any other reason to leave by raising taxes or imposing other costs on the economy." LaFaive noted that according to the UVL data, Michigan’s outbound rate is 2.1 percentage points higher than in 2005 and less than one percentage point lower than Michigan’s all-time outbound record, set in 1981.

LaFaive and Hicks have published a commentary about the new data and its implications for Michigan on the Mackinac Center’s Web site. LaFaive and Hicks present empirical and anecdotal evidence in their essay suggesting that policy decisions can influence state-to-state migration. They also caution against one of the more popular solutions to Michigan’s economic woes frequently discussed in Lansing: higher spending on higher education.

"Research shows that spending more on higher education may slow the real rate of a state’s economic growth," LaFaive observed.