Van Lines Data Show People Fleeing States With Big Fiscal Problems

Published January 16, 2013

Citizens and businesses are fleeing states with fiscal problems – that is one apparent message from the latest annual report from United Van Lines. The company’s study of 2012 interstate shipments, released in December, showed significant continuing flight from states with high state government debt loads as measured by the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA).

For example, the top five states for the share of outbound interstate shipments in the latest UVL survey were, in order from one to five – New Jersey, Illinois, West Virginia, New York, and New Mexico. The average taxpayer burden estimated by IFTA (a careful estimate of state government debt loads) for these five states came to $25,000 in the latest year, more than three times the average of $7,850 for the other 45 states.

Low Debt, High Attraction

The four states with the highest share of inbound moves for UVL in 2012 were, in order, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The average IFTA taxpayer burden estimate for these four states came to $6,600 in 2011, about 33 percent lower than the average for the other 46 states.

UVL listed five states, not four, in the ‘states’ with the highest share of inbound shipments, but the fifth ‘state’ (actually, it came in first) was the District of Columbia. This result is consistent with other economic data showing the Washington, D.C. economy doing swimmingly over the last five years despite the worst economic and financial crisis in the nation since the Great Depression.

Encouraging Signs for Some

In the Midwest, some of the harder-hit states in the recession saw improvement. For example, Michigan had ranked first in the nation in the share of outbound shipments in each of the four years until 2009, but the developing economic recovery and other factors have led to some improvement in its relative position in the last few years.

Also in 2009, Indiana ranked 4th in the nation in outbound shipments for UVL, but that rank fell to 10th in 2010 and 14th in 2011 — and then fell sharply, to 26th, in 2012. 

Both Michigan and Indiana have produced significant improvement in the balance of spending and revenue in their state budgets in recent years. Illinois, by contrast, has been mired in high and rising state government debt and still ranks near the top of the outbound shipments list for UVL.

William Bergman ([email protected]) is director of research for, a project of the Institute for Truth in Accounting.

Internet Info

“The higher the debt, the more people leave,”