Poll finds six in 10 Illinoisans considered moving to another state

Six in ten Illinoisans have thought about becoming ex-Illinoisans in the last year, according to a September poll conducted for the University of Illinois at Springfield. The Center Square

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Six in ten Illinoisans have thought about becoming ex-Illinoisans in the last year, according to a September poll conducted for the University of Illinois at Springfield. 

“In 2018, a bit over half (53%) of respondents said they had considered moving out of Illinois in the previous 12 months,” the report said. “In 2019, this has risen to slightly more than six in ten (61%).” 

When asked why, the majority of all respondents said it was “lower state taxes (27%), state government policies (17%), and better weather (15%).” 

One striking statistic was the percentage of high-earners who say they’ve considered moving out of state. 

Those who earned more were more likely to consider moving out of Illinois.

“Respondents reporting a household income of more than $100,000 a year (68%) are nearly ten percentage points higher than other income groups to say they’ve considered moving out of the state,” the report said. 

This could be troubling for the state because not only would it be losing more people, but a key subset of higher-income taxpayers who likely pay a higher share of taxes, said Brian Harger, a senior research associate with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University.

“With more wealth, you have more options as far as where you live and what you want to do,” he said. 

When asked where they would go, Florida, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee and California were the top five most-cited destinations. The top three states were listed as the top destination for both Democrat and Republican respondents.

“In Indiana’s case, I would say those are probably more economically-motivated people because I can’t imagine anybody’s moving there for the weather,” Harger said.

People who identified themselves as Republicans were more apt to seek out a new home state. Seventy percent of Republicans and what the study labeled “Republican-leaning independents” reported they considered leaving the state.

A majority of left-leaning respondents said they had considered leaving in the past 12 months. 

Illinois’ population declined by 45,000 people in the 12 months that ended in July 2018. At that time, Illinois lost its spot as the fifth most populous state in the nation. Pennsylvania took the fifth-place spot when Illinois slid into sixth. If the state’s population continues to decline at this pace, the state is due to lose at least one congressional seat – and possibly two seats – after reapportionment in 2021. 

Even so, more Illinoisans said they thought the state was on the right track after Gov. J.B. Pritzker beat former Gov. Bruce Rauner in the November 2018 election.

“Compared to the 2018 edition of this survey (14%), twice as many respondents (28%) in 2019 describe Illinois as heading in the right direction,” the report said.

The report also showed growing optimism with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, with 59 percent of voters approving of the way he was handling his job. 

The survey polled more than 1,000 Illinoisans 18 or older.

The Center Square

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