A few months ago newspapers in Columbus and Dayton trumpted stories with headlines like “More People Moving Out of Ohio.” Both stories relied on data from large moving companies. While data from United Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines is interesting, relying on moving companies for migration information presents a biased view of migration.
Moving company data pick up the rich and upper middle class. Moving companies ignore do-it-yourself movers, who tend to be poorer. Moving company data also ignores young college age people who have few possessions.
A better data set is released each year by the IRS. United States tax officials tally all people who filed an income tax form one year and moved to a new address the next. The data from the IRS is found on their SOI Tax Stats page. The drawback with IRS data is that it takes longer for the US government to released migration information than the big moving companies.
What are some of the differences? United Van Lines suggests about 60% of their moves were taking people out of Ohio and 40% of the long distance moves were into Ohio. The most recent IRS data shows the change from 2014 tax forms to 2015. This IRS information shows the figure is more like 54% of the moves were out of Ohio and 46% were into Ohio.
United Van Lines said the top destination from all states was into Oregon. The IRS shows that people from Ohio don’t go to Oregon. Oregon was actually the 28th spot on the list for people leaving Ohio.
Where do they go? People from Ohio go to Florida, Texas and Kentucky. Where do people come from when the move to Ohio? The same three states; Florida, Kentucky and Texas. The places where people from Ohio are least likely to move to and from are Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming.
The interesting thing is that people leaving Ohio report much higher income than those coming into the state. The average income of a family that leaves Ohio is a bit over sixty-thousand dollars ($60,290). However, the average income of families coming into Ohio is less than fifty-thousand ($49,520).
The facts don’t change much over time. Looking at the IRS migration data from 2000 to 2001 show the top places people from Ohio went to live fifteen years ago were Florida, Kentucky and California. When people moved into Ohio back then they were from Florida, Kentucky and Michigan. Just like the more recent data, back in 2000 the people leaving out-earned the people moving into the state.
The IRS data don’t overturn the findings of the big moving companies. Nevertheless, the IRS data suggest Ohio is not in as dire a condition as the newspaper headlines suggest.