California isn’t the only progressive paradise experiencing a population exodus. The case of the blue budget basket known as Illinois is in an even worse state.
Baby boomers love Illinois. Long courted by the promise of generous public retirement benefits, baby boomers have largely stayed behind in Illinois, helping to raise the state’s median age by more than two years over the past decade. But young adults don’t quite share the baby boomer love of Lincoln Country.
In the face of the cold shower of state over-regulation, high taxes, and generational debt, more and more millennials and other young Illinois are hitting the road. This youth emigration has led Illinois to become one of three states (along with West Virginia and Mississippi) to experience a decline in its overall population, according to a new study from the University of Illinois Extension. 2010.
As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, much of this mass exodus is caused by students leaving Illinois for college and never returning. And it’s not hard to see why they decide to stay away. For starters, the state’s residential tax rate is the second highest in the country, just behind New Jersey. Its corporate tax rate is among the highest in the country.
These high taxes have stifled growth, sending jobs – and the young people who sought them – out of state.
Illinois is also experiencing a mass exodus of children. The University of Illinois study found that the state’s underachieving schools – long at the mercy of big Labor – could be a key factor in driving young families away. The state’s under-18 population has shrunk by 350,000 over the past decade, putting Illinois on a similar fiscal path to that which went bankrupt in Puerto Rico, some observers fear.
Illinois has long been ruled by powerful Democrats in the service of government unions. According to a recent Wirepoints study, the state’s pension debt burden alone is four times the national average and the second highest in the country after Connecticut. As the Illinois Policy Institute rightly suggests, state lawmakers owe it to millennials and future generations to come to grips with the enormous generational inequity of their state.
Illinois, like California, should be a cautionary tale for growing states like Nevada. If you want to retain and attract young people, it makes sense to bring government spending on pensions under control and lower the cost of doing business while removing regulatory barriers that stifle entrepreneurship. Continuing to launch the box on the road on these issues will only lead young people to follow the box right out of state.