Illinoisans go west -- even if it's just to Iowa
Illinois' loss is Iowa's gain, it appears.
As Illinois has experienced an unprecedented rate of outmigration -- people leaving one state for another -- Dallas County in Iowa turned into one of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cook County lost 21,324 residents between mid-2015 and mid-2016, and Illinois as a whole dealt with the largest outmigration in the country. It was the only Midwest state watching its population shrink.
Michael Lucci, vice president of policy for the Chicago-based Illinois Policy Institute, blames a combination of negative factors, including taxation and the business climate.
“Iowa is much friendlier to its taxpayers and business owners,” Lucci told Rock Island Today. “It helps that Iowa is also a right to work state, while Illinois is not. Plus, the regulations in Iowa on things likes worker’s compensation are just much more reasonable than in Illinois.”
Lucci said the trend is for moving to warmer locales.
“There’s a larger level of people moving south and west, causing many Midwestern cities to have domestic outmigration, but all the dysfunctional, ineffective and corrupt levels of government in Illinois make the situation here much worse,” Lucci said.
Over the last five years, 68,000 Illinoisans crossed the Mississippi River to Iowa, while only 41,000 Iowans moved in the opposite direction, a net loss of 27,000 people for Illinois, the report showed.
The institute warned that the trend could get even worse based on reforms enacted recently by Iowa legislators, including changes to the union collective bargaining process that proponents tout as a surefire way to get property tax rates under control.
While Iowa government makes reforms, the so-called “grand bargain” budget deal languishes in the Illinois General Assembly and the two-year budget impasse continues.
“The grand bargain is nothing more than a massive tax hike dressed up with a few reforms,” Lucci said. “Illinois is approaching what you would call a death spiral where the debt soon will simply become too much to manage. Raising taxes even more won’t fix the problem. We keep having people leave because of all the high taxes; raising them on those who stay just will not work.”