The Sunshine State has become the top home for residents leaving New York" /> The Sunshine State has become the top home for residents leaving New York" />
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Saturday, Dec 20, 2014
Commentary

IN A FLORIDA STATE OF MIND The Sunshine State has become the top home for residents leaving New York

BY WILLIAM RUGER
AND JASON SORENS
Special to The Tampa Tribune
Published:

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New Yorkers have long retired to the warmth and ease of the Florida coast, but eyebrow-raising numbers show that in recent years, most of those moving from the Empire State to the Sunshine State have been going there to find work.

Florida remains the top destination for outbound New Yorkers, but the new migrants are a lot younger than you’d expect.

According to the five-year American Community Survey, which the U.S. Census Bureau conducted from 2007 to 2011, 78 percent of the people who migrated from New York to Florida in those years were younger than age 60. The ages with the highest proportions of migrants to Florida were 18, 19, 21, 24, 28, 40 and 55.

Even leaving out the 18- and 19-year olds, many of whom are probably college students, that’s a lot of early retirees, and an astonishing number of young workers.

Even the numbers of New Yorkers moving to Florida in their late 30s and mid-40s aren’t much lower than the number of retirees moving at the end of their careers.

This means that an increasing number of New Yorkers either can’t afford to remain in their home state or can’t find work there — and are thus moving to states with friendlier business climates to find it.

Florida is not the only one: In 2011, other relatively pro-business states, such as Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, also continued to attract more migrants from New York than they sent there.

In our new edition of the biannual book “Freedom in the 50 States,” we look at the laws of every state in the country to determine which places make it easiest to live and work.

We find that New York ranks dead last on overall freedom.

For one, Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously made New York City the laughingstock of the country by devoting his valuable political capital to that most pressing priority, preventing people from buying sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces.

Though a judge struck the regulation down on the eve of its enactment earlier this month, the fact that Bloomberg even proposed it says a lot about New York politicians’ beliefs about the role of government in people’s lives.

Not surprisingly, politicians who think their job is to stop you from drinking Big Gulps aren’t particularly sympathetic to your desire to keep your money.

New Yorkers face the highest state and local tax burdens in the country, at 14 percent of income. Add in federal, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and lower-middle-class workers can end up sending close to 35 percent of their paychecks to the government.

Between 2000 and 2010, New York saw 1.7 million of its residents move to other states. Although the births of new New Yorkers and the arrival of new immigrants kept the Empire State’s overall population from dropping, that means nearly 9 percent of the state’s 2000 population moved elsewhere.

Meanwhile, at 23rd on our list, Florida is hardly the freest state in the union — but with no state income tax, it’s at least a lot more affordable than New York.

States that allow residents to keep more of their money and run businesses without undue burdens create higher personal income growth and draw steady streams of people from other states.

Of course, New Yorkers think about more than taxes and nanny state laws when deciding where to live, but when costs get too out of control, they tend to vote with their feet.

All of which has made the Sunshine State even more enticing for the young today than it has long been for the old.


William Ruger is an assistant professor of political science at Texas State University. Jason Sorens is an assistant professor of political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The two are authors of the just-published “Freedom in the 50 States 2013” book from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The study can be read at Freedominthe50states.org. This article first appeared in the New York Daily News.

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