Packing up the wealth

Castles in the Sand

Pity the poor governors of some of the large metropolitan areas in the Northeast, West and Mid-west. Specifically, New York and Illinois, where their mostly wealthy and upper-middle-class residents are packing their bags and their money and heading to other states where they think they will be more appreciated.

The IRS’s adjusted gross income statistics show a startling pattern of migration within the United States; two of the most astounding states are Illinois and New York. The IRS data shows a net 105,000 people left Illinois in 2021, costing the state approximately $10.9 billion in adjusted gross income. That’s up from $8.5 billion in 2020 and $6 billion in 2019. New York’s income loss increased to $24.5 billion in 2021 from $19.5 billion in 2020, and $9 billion in 2019. In addition, California lost $29.1 billion in 2021, more than triple what it did in 2019.

By comparison, the lowest tax states kept adding income even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida, a state with zero income tax, gained $39.2 billion, up from $23.7 billion in 2020, and $17.1 billion in 2019. The states that contributed the most to Florida’s billion-dollar bonuses were New York, Illinois, New Jersey and California. Florida certainly isn’t alone – many other low-tax states like Texas, Arizona and Nevada have also benefited from this wealth migration. In addition, Florida and other low-tax states led the country in job growth. Florida’s employment grew 4.5% over the past year and Illinois’ gain was 2.2%.

As great as Florida’s wealth gain is, we have dropped out of the Emerging Housing Markets Index compiled by Although Florida regions have typically been in the top 10, in some of our smaller and growing areas they are not within the top 10 on this most recent index. This is the good and the bad of being a very popular state. Everything becomes more expensive and housing costs, as we all know, are not nearly as affordable in Florida as they once were.

The first quarter index indicates that buyers demand affordable homes and most of these are in the small Midwest cities. The top-ranking area is Lafayette, Indiana and the 10th ranking is the Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire region. The index ranks the 300 biggest metro areas in the United States. In addition to housing market indicators, the index incorporates economic and lifestyle data. Real estate taxes, unemployment, wages, commute time and small business loans are all factored in.

Finally, I would be remiss not to point out that as of May 1, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-government agency that controls and insures most of the residential mortgage financing in the country, has changed some of the agency’s mortgage pricing.

The new rules add fees for many borrowers with high credit ratings and large down payments and use them to reduce the cost of borrowing for those with lesser credit ratings and smaller down payments. There is a formula that factors in the borrower’s credit rating and the down payment, but the spirit of the change is to support lower-income homebuyers who, in the opinion of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have the “financial capacity to sustain a mortgage.” Congress is naturally taking a look at this new fee schedule and comparing it to the subprime debacle prior to the 2006-07 financial meltdown.

Next time one of the high-tax states evacuees move in next door, greet them and their bags of money. Florida has indisputably changed from when my parents moved here in the 70s and I’m pretty sure they would think it’s a good thing. My father always said Florida has the best roads in the country. He should see the traffic now.