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The [Wednesday] Papers

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Leaving Illinois
From the Tribune:

Perhaps you've seen the memes, the ones that poke fun at Illinois and encourage thoughts of moving away. In one, a marijuana plant appears alongside the message, "Illinois: We'll keep you as high as our taxes."

An "Escaping Illinois" Facebook group has more than 39,000 followers. One man even wrote a song called "Goodbye Illinois," lamenting the state's taxes and political corruption and expressing his desire to leave.

Memes, however, can't capture the complexity of population trends for an entire state or region.

The state has been struggling to keep residents for decades, with more people leaving than arriving since at least 1970. But it's only in the last few years that the state's population and that of its largest and most important economic engine, Chicago, have slipped.

During that time, the gap between the number of people leaving the state and those arriving has widened. Those losses were formerly offset by gains from international migration and births, but these numbers have also decreased recently. As a result, the overall state population began to fall in 2014.

Other neighboring Midwestern states - Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri - also have had a difficult time both keeping existing residents and attracting new ones. But all of those states have experienced population growth for most of this decade, though the numbers are small. Not Illinois.

To better understand the trend, the Tribune gathered and analyzed years of census data, interviewed demographers and spoke with people who have decided to move. Here is some of what we discovered.

I. Am. So. Glad. The. Tribune. Did. This. Story.

Amidst the rhetoric of an Illinois Exodus, I've long wondered what the facts really were. I hope this story sets the record straight. Let's take a look.

"For decades, more people have left Illinois than have moved into the state. And that gap, which demographers call net migration, is getting worse."

In fact, Illinois is 49th in net migration. Only Alaska is worst (presuming you think it's bad that people are leaving your state in droves.)

The problem, though, isn't just that people are leaving in droves. Illinois ranks 21st in that department. It's that so few people are moving in.

Implication: One could argue that attracting new people here is more important than figuring out how to prevent people from leaving, if that's even possible.

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"Combine migration losses with an aging population, declining birth rates and stagnated international migration, and the result is decreased population."

So, presuming increasing population is desirable, Illinois needs to attract more young people who want to have babies.

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You'll have to wade through a bunch of stats and anecdotes before getting to what I thought was the point of the story:

"Are taxes the main reason people are leaving Illinois? Census data can't answer that exact question, though it does provide some clues.

"The Census Bureau conducts a survey every month that includes questions about why a person changed residences in the previous year. The survey offers a range of possible answers, from foreclosure/eviction to change of climate to 'wanted better neighborhood/less crime.'

"Taxes is not on the list of possible answers, though experts said the 'wanted cheaper housing' category might capture people concerned about high taxes."

Now I'm frustrated. I just want to know if the Illinois Exodus based on high property taxes - because the state income tax rate is not at all very high - is real.

"Since 2008, the most common reason for moving cited by people who left Illinois was a new job or job transfer, which accounted for nearly one in three moves."

Okay, how about the other two-thirds of moves?

"In second and third place both for Illinois and the U.S. were two grab-bag answers: 'other family reason' and 'other housing reason.'"

So third place at best, though "other housing reason" could mean many things besides property taxes.

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In the end, I'm sad to say, the article doesn't deliver. Maybe the answer as to why people leave Illinois can't be answered any more definitively than this. But least from the available evidence, the Illinois Exodus appears to be the fraud many of us suspected it was.

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Also, any politician who claims people are leaving Illinois because of high taxes should have to prove that claim before a journalist repeats it.

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Via Ted Slowik in the Daily Southtown, via the comments at Capitol Fax:

"'A 2016 poll by Southern Illinois University found that nearly half of Illinois residents wanted to move to another state, citing taxes, weather, ineffective and corrupt local government and a lack of middle-class jobs,' Governing magazine reported in June."

The Governing article is from June, and titled "Why Are Residents Leaving Illinois In Droves?"

(The byline there is actually Stateline, "a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that reports and analyzes trends in state policy." So I'm now referring to a Stateline article in Governing mentioned by a Tribune-owned Daily Southtown article found in the comments of Capitol Fax commenting on a Tribune article.)

To the Governing piece:

"It's known here as The Exodus."

Yup. But is it real?

Eh. Read the piece for yourself. But the problem, as the Trib indicates, is that it only addresses one half of the equation - out-migration. It sounds to me like in-migration is the issue.

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Also, don't forget: Chicago's population started dropping while Richard M. Daley was the mayor, and disingenuously or not, he claimed it was good that the city was getting smaller because it would be easier to govern and provide services to. That's bullshit, of course, but he said it.

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The key to attracting and retaining residents isn't really about taxes, but quality of life. That includes taxes but also a basket of other things, like job opportunities, wages and the quality of schools.

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I know law firms aren't people, but this hit my inbox this week:

Why Firms Keep Flocking To 'Perfect' Minneapolis.

Minnesota is known as a high-tax, high-quality of life state. People seem to like it there.

"Minnesota last year broke a 15-year losing streak when more people moved here from another state than moved out, according to Census Bureau estimates," the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported in 2018.

"Minnesota's neighbors continue to lose residents. North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin combined to lose over 11,000 residents from domestic net migration while South Dakota gained about 2,000."

It starts with a progressive state income tax and large investments in education, which attracts families and employers. Some folks don't like to hear that, but that doesn't make it untrue.

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Catching up with . . .

Mexican Independence Day
Takin' it to the streets - and Trump Tower.

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ChicagoReddit

Playing Piano at Lowline Paulina Stop 9/25, 5-7p from r/chicagomusicscene

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Korean Performing Art Institute Of Chicago.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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He's awful; virtually everything he's written has been debunked, but not everybody has gotten the memo yet.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Quid no quo.



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Posted on September 25, 2019


MUSIC - Pandemophenia.
TV - NBC's Bicentennial Special.
POLITICS - A New Minimum Merger Maxim.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Unless Someone Dies.

BOOKS - The Legacy Of Racism For Children.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - On Boredom.


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