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20 States Whose Residents Are Leaving

Connecticut (62% Outbound)

Connecticut showed up more than once on our list of most expensive cities to raise a family, so it might not be too surprising that people are heading elsewhere. The United Van Lines study shows that 62% of their cross-state trips to Connecticut involved carrying people out of it, and a Bloomberg analysis of Census data reached a similar conclusion. While local officials say that school enrollment is up, the state has definitely seen a net decrease in population.

According to current trends, Connecticut's population has dropped steadily for the last several years. Unlike some states on this list, a comeback seems unlikely for the Constitution State. 

Missouri (51% Outbound)

in 2018, 51% of Missouri's residents packed their bags, with 71% reporting their job situation as their reason for leaving the state.

Despite the recent loss, Missouri is predicted to have a population of 6.8 million people by 2030, which would be a 21% increase from 2000.

Utah (51.7% Outbound)

You might be confused to see Utah on this list if you keep up with the fastest-growing states in the country. While it’s true that Utah’s overall population has been booming (12% since 2010), this metric focuses on domestic migration. The bulk of Utah’s population grow can be attributed to births. It accounts for around 66% of the state’s growth. Meanwhile, the majority of moves are to out-of-state locations.

While a high birth rate helps contribute to population growth in Utah, interestingly enough, the state also has the lowest death rate in the nation. These factors have managed to keep Utah growing, despite the people leaving the state each year. 

Nebraska (52.6% Outbound)

About 71% of those leaving Nebraska cite their job as their reason for leaving. And it's typically young people leaving after they get their bachelor's degree.

According to a 2018 report from the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, the "out-migration of Nebraskans with at least a bachelor's degree continues to be a serious issue."

Maryland (53.1% Outbound)

A slight majority of Maryland’s cross-border moves were to out-of-state locations instead of to internal ones. Community pride in Baltimore, the state’s largest city, has taken a hit recently, so it may be understanding for residents to want to explore other options elsewhere.

However, not all folks are leaving Maryland for the same reason. In 2018, the top three reasons for moving out of state were job changes (50%), retirement (22%), and unspecified family reasons (20%). 

Kentucky (53.5% Outbound)

Kentucky’s population centers (think Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green) are booming. But the state’s more rural counties are seeing their populations decline. Most of these are located along its borders with Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee. Perhaps that’s why the majority of cross-border moves are headed out of the state.

While job changes were the #1 reason for moving away from Kentucky, nearly a quarter of all respondents said that family issues played a part in their decision to leave. 

Maine (50.6% Outbound)

In the years since the 2010 census, Maine’s population has barely budged. It seems that after a round of paper mill closures, older workers retired and moved south to warmer weather, leading to nearly 50.6% of cross-border moves being outbound.

Luckily for the state, recent years have shown a slight decrease in the number of citizens leaving. In 2018, the number of people moving out and moving in were nearly equal—so not great, but better than things have been, at least. 

Wisconsin (54% Outbound)

Like many other states across the country, Wisconsin is seeing its population centers grow while its rural areas are losing residents. So while many residents are moving internally to large cities, when looking just at cross-border moves, Wisconsin comes out on the negative side.

To combat this wave of leaving residents, Wisconsin organizations have recently begun introducing efforts to retain citizens and attract new ones. These initiatives include things like marketing campaigns highlighting the benefits of the state. 

Louisiana (54.3% Outbound)

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Louisiana has been gaining new residents at a much slower pace than other states. 

From the 54.3% of those who moved out of the state in 2018, 71% cited their job (or lack thereof) as the reason.

Montana (55% Outbound)

Montana nabs the #9 spot for the top outbound states of 2018, with 55% of its residents choosing to move away. About 50% of the residents leaving Montana are 65+, so retirement is a huge factor here. The other major reason for leaving that people cited, at 40%, is family.

Coincidentally, 29% of those moving to Montana are moving for a new job. So the concensus here is that Montana is a land of opportunity for those just starting out in their career, but when it comes time to retire, they move back to wherever their family resides.

Iowa (55.5% Outbound)

Internal growth factors in Iowa remain steady but slow. In fact, Iowa lost another congressional seat after the 2010 census as other areas in the country saw major gains. When examining moves into and out of the state, Iowa is tied with Maine thanks to many older residents retiring out of state and younger residents having a low birth rate. The total outbound in 2018 was 55.5%.

While some cities in Iowa have seen growth over the last decade, this upswing seems to be isolated to metropolitan areas. Rural communities have borne the brunt of citizens leaving the state. 

Mississippi (49.4% Outbound)

Mississippi’s population has been relatively stagnant for some time, especially considering the boom in moves to the Southern U.S. In fact, it was recently passed up by its neighbor, Arkansas, in total population. Much of the outbound moves can probably be contributed to it having the lowest income per capita in the country. That being said, total outbound decreased a bit in 2018 at just 49.4% (the lowest outbound percentage on this list).

This lack of relative wealth in Mississippi would explain why almost 60% of respondents said they were leaving the state for job reasons. Other factors that could contribute to leaving trailed far behind this clear majority. 

Massachusetts (55.7% Outbound)

As is the nationwide trend, domestic migration follows a pattern from the Northeast toward the Southwest. That means Massachusetts comes out a net loser when examining in-state and out-of-state moves. Part of the contributing factor could be that Massachusetts has a cost of living that is nearly 38% greater than the U.S. average.

However, Massachusetts may be making a comeback. Immigration has added a whopping 7 million new residents to the state since the last census. 

Ohio (56.5% Outbound)

Ohio has long struggled to keep people from moving out—especially its younger population. In fact, of all Ohio's moving traffic, 56.5% of the relocations were outward to other states.

In 2017, Cuyahoga county in Ohio lost 4,940 citizens—making it the third-largest drop in county population across the entire United States. 

Kansas (58.7% Outbound)

Kansas's percentage of movers leaving the state this past year was 58.7%. Locals cite slow recovery from the economic downturn.

However, economics might not be the only thing contributing to this loss of residents. The median age for a Kansas resident is 36, which points to an increasingly older population. 

New York (61.5% Outbound)

Considering that fully half of the 10 most expensive cities to raise a family are all located in New York, it might not be surprising that people are leaving. New York City has a reputation as one of the world's greatest cities, but real estate costs are so expensive they have to be explained away on TV sitcoms—which doesn't bode well for real-life people trying to live there. Of people who hired a moving truck in 2018, 61.5% were leaving New York versus the almost 38.5% who were moving into the state.

However, residents leaving the Big Apple is far from the only population problem facing New York. According to the most recent statistics, 50% of counties in rural, upstate New York have also seen a drop in residents since 2010. 

Indiana (48.8% Outbound)

Indianapolis, the state’s capital, was the main driver of Indiana’s growth in the past few years. The rural areas of the state, meanwhile, are having a tough time. Those particularly reliant upon manufacturing, like Gary, saw a population decline. People living in counties close to the state border seem to have crossed over.

Things might be looking up for the Hoosier State, however.  In recent years, the number of residents leaving Indiana has been on the decline, and hopefully that trend will continue. 

California (54.4% Outbound)

About 54.4% of California residents moved out of state in 2018, and it turns out it's not because of all the wildfires or earthquakes but because of the high cost of living.

Aaron Terrazas, a sernior economist for Zillow, says that "costs have gotten way ahead of incomes in California, and that's making a lot of people think about whether it's worth the hurdles."

Illinois (65.9% Outbound)

Illinois has been in the top five for several years, and this year it comes in at #2 with 65.9% of movers leaving because of the state of the economy.

Despite this drop in residents, Illinois is still the sixth-largest state in the nation, population wise. This is largely thanks to the size of Chicago, but with consistent movement out of the state, it's unclear how long they will be able to maintain their position. 

New Jersey (66.8% Outbound)

Despite its supposed status as a hipster playground, people are leaving New Jersey in droves. Based on moving van traffic into and out of the state, nearly 66.8% of movers were outbound, which means more people fled New Jersey last year than any other state in the nation. We'll take the high road and refrain from the easy jokes.

In particular, Millenials represent the largest demographic currently heading for the exits.  All in all, New Jersey has been one of the hardest-hit northeastern states in terms of population decline.