7-6-15 – Money Talks… and Walks, and Holds on for Dear Life in Our State.

by Matthew Strong

There has been much discussion over the past few years concerning population and investment leaving the state of Vermont. A very interesting article written by UVM associate professor of economics Art Woolf, details the sad state of affairs of Vermont’s GDP, the total dollar value of all goods and services produced within its borders. “…Vermont’s GDP is the smallest of any state in the nation, below even Wyoming, the only state with fewer people than Vermont.” In offering a remedy, among other things, Professor Woolf mentioned the need for “a stable and predictive economic environment.” There is now even more data to back up the idea that increasing taxes and regulations slows down economic development and causes people to move.

www.howmoneywalks.com is a website put together by author Travis Brown, who is “an entrepreneur with a passion for helping cities and states grow via smart tax policies.” The site details migration of people and their incomes through IRS tax data. Between 1995 and 2010, millions of Americans moved between the states, taking with them over $2 trillion in adjusted gross incomes. The specific numbers are very enlightening, and we can learn much about Vermont from them.

Between 1992 and 2014, Vermont has gained $664.23 million in annual AGI (adjusted gross income) of individual incomes. This number is the net amount; people moved into and out of our state during that time. Let’s look closer at the data. The site gives us the ability to know which states we pulled people from, but also which states people moved to.

VERMONT Gained Wealth From:

$537.66 million – New York

$400.24 million – Connecticut

$316.70 million – New Jersey

$284.27 million – Massachusetts

$75.89 million – Pennsylvania


VERMONT Lost Wealth To:

$566.78 million – Florida

$109.88 million – North Carolina

$109.48 million – New Hampshire

$74.55 million –  South Carolina

$56.26 million  – Arizona

As you can see in the chart below, this wealth migration peaked in 2011, and is already starting to decline.

Wealth Migration Chart 1

The website also allows you look at each county in each state. Chittenden County’s data is even worse. $224.45 million in annual AGI left Chittenden between 1992 and 2014. Even though there are a few more people in Chittenden County, the amount of individual taxable income dropped.

Wealth migratoin chart 2

Here’s where Chittenden County’s wealth migration came from and went to:

Gained Wealth From:

$66.91 million – New York County, NY

$45.23 million – Washington County, VT

$22.25 million – Rutland County, VT

$20.86 million – Westchester County, NY

$20.70 million – Fairfield County, CT

 Lost Wealth To:

$77.76 million – Franklin County, VT

$55.73 million – Grand Isle County, VT

$46.02 million – Cook County, IL

$29.04 million – Lee County, FL

$27.31 million – Palm Beach County, FL


Next, let’s look at the population associated with this personal income migration in Vermont. Between 1985 and 2014, Vermont has lost 271 residents (net loss, measured only in persons filing tax returns). These numbers do not include young Vermonters who leave for school and do not come back.


Gained Population From:

5,586 – New York

5,351 – Connecticut

3,906     New Jersey

2,219     Massachusetts

1,218     Pennsylvania

Lost Population To:

7,366 – Florida

3,668 – North Carolina

2,037 – Colorado

1,562 – California

1,562 – South Carolina


The inbound migration has been slowing since the peak in 2003, and turned negative in 2014.

Wealth Migration Chart 3

You probably noticed a very specific pattern in the states involved in the migration. Well, it turns out Vermont is doing this “well” because several of our New England neighbors have been legislating situations slightly worse than ours. Take our neighbors to the west for example, New York. They are losing over $46,000 of AGI every 5 minutes! They’ve lost $86.27 BILLION over the same time frame. Because Vermont is just slightly better tax wise, a small number of people who wanted to save money but not move far have chosen Vermont. But, as we have seen, the trend is reversing.

Now for the comparison. What could have happened if the folks in Montpelier had made our state more attractive to those in the exodus from our neighboring states? Our neighbor to the east has grown dramatically over the same time frame with their friendlier tax rates and structures.

New Hampshire gained $4.02 Billion in adjusted gross income from 1992 to 2014.

Wealth Migration Chart 4

Gained Wealth From:

$3.65 billion – Massachusetts

$557.92 million – Connecticut

$554.90 million – New York

$341.47 million –  New Jersey

$123.75 million – Rhode Island

Lost Wealth To:

$1.42 billion – Florida

$288.37 million – North Carolina

$223.87 million – Maine

$171.20 million – South

$151.76 million – Arizona


And how about population? New Hampshire had 51,524 additional people move in.

Wealth migration chart 5


Gained Population From:

53,166 – Massachusetts

4,693 – Connecticut

3,221 – New York

2,687 – New Jersey

1,027 – Rhode Island

Lost Population To:

24,934 – Florida

6,244 – North Carolina

5,122 – California

4,138 – Maine

3,754 – Virginia


But, even New Hampshire knows the clear winner has been Florida, with $127.02 Billion in gained income, and 1,846,498 new tax payers! Tax policy and regulatory environment matter, and tax payers are proving it with their feet, and their dollars.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jim bulmer July 8, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Excessive taxes chase people???? Wow!!! It’s about time we voted these morons OUT of office in November!!!!


Ed Brault July 9, 2016 at 12:21 am

Yes they do. So do rising electric rates, road brine, and idiot laws, like the GMO labelling, that only serve to raise the cost of living for those who can least afford it.
My wife and I are two of those that ran to South Carolina.
God Save the South!


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