Economic Brief: Where Have Maine’s Young, Single, and College-Educated Population Gone?

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Anecdotally, it is a well-worn verse in Maine that the state has been losing its young people. A new study from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms this.

The study titled “Historical Migration of the Young, Single, and College-Educated: 1965 to 2000,” (pdf) examined the past four decennial censuses to determine the net migration of this population among the 50 states. Based on a state’s net migration over these four time-periods, they classify a state as a “consistent gainer,” “inconsistent gainer,” “inconsistent decliner,” and “consistent decliner.”

As shown in the chart below, Maine is classified as an “inconsistent decliner” because there was one time-period (1985-1990) where Maine was a net in-migrant state. However, a closer look at the data shows that that one time-period fell significantly short of reversing the out-going tide of young, single, and college-educated folks.

The 1965 to 1970 time-period was Maine’s worst with 235.6 people for every 1,000 people between the ages of 25 and 39 leaving that state. The time-periods 1975 to 1980 and 1995 to 2000 were net out-migrant years but at a much lower level (-58.5 and -80.1, respectively). The one in-migrant time-period was 1985 to 1990 with only 13.1 people per 1,000 coming into the state—a rate that is far short of off-setting the out-migration of other time-periods.

Overall, this is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the underlying population trends that have contributed to Maine’s Demographic Winter—where 11 counties now have as many or more deaths than births. Put simply, these young people are the foundation of Maine’s future families. So Maine’s declining birth rate is, in part, due to having fewer families in their prime child-bearing years.

As such, if Maine is going to reverse Demographic Winter then we will have to find a way to not only keep our young people in the state, but also to attract young people “from away.” The best way to accomplish this goal is by eliminating Maine’s personal income tax. Doing so would boost jobs, the prime concern of young, single, college-educated folks, and increase their after-tax income.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Based on the maps, New Hampshire with no income tax performed no better. States that did well include liberal bastions like Oregon and Washington.

  2. In 2005 with 7+ yrs experience in commercial aviation, my son, was recruited by Portland Jetport for as position. Within 2 months of arriving the word at the company was to expect the “annual winter layoff”.  He immediately sought employment in his field outside of his “native” Maine, returning  a few months later to KS. He purchased a home within a few weeks of arrival and has never looked back. Even during these economic times he has received salary increases of as much as 18% each year since 2006. His analysis-Maine economics simply don’t measure up with the rest of the World. It’s a whole lot moe than just JOBS-folks.

  3. I read somewhere quite some time ago that young men have been leaving Maine since the civil war during which they saw “what else was out there.” Number one, better farm land.

  4. Everyone knows that Maine is NOT a business friendly state. A young person wants warms winters, more pay, better opportunities, better entertainment and if they have to give this up for less crime and open spaces than they need tax breaks. Oh yes, we all do.

  5. Why is this considered news. Even the most casual observer knows this. It has always been known. It will always be known.
     
    In the early sixty’s one of my brother in laws went to teach law at Notre Dame. Another one went to New Hampshire and built his industrial building in a business park. Another went to Canada. Late sixty’s I left.

    But, Let’s study it for a few more decades. It will give us something to do until more of the ones who left come back to retire and produce less for Maine. Hey, let’s hire two college interns.

    I am convinced if Lepage gets 8 years (with a majority) this problem will finally start turning around.

  6. Old concern…smart, ambitious, and ‘credentialed’ young people almost always leave Maine for better higher education, job, etc. opportunities.

    They make a life and accumulate wealth, and then return to Maine to ‘summer’ and eventually buy/build a summer home.  Drove up Ocean Point in E. Boothbay on Sunday, for sale signs lined the shore road, revealing the turnover in houses owned by people who’ve spent their ‘last’ summer in Maine.

    And the roads had more than enough people appraising these homes.

    I would never stop this outflow, since in many cases they will return at some point in their life with money, higher education, skills, and perhaps a passion to start an enterprise.  Even those who enter the military return  better men and women for the experience. 

    At its worse; this kind of article is yet another plea for government intervention…ENOUGH  ALREADY! 

    Let me add, one reason to stay in Maine is to enter a family owned and operated business. Corporate takeovers displace these people and import others; yet another reason to focus on preserving and starting more family run businesses.

  7. Hi!

    This is old information – twelve years ago – the last year being 2000.

    Who cares about the migration of the young,etc? That is not the correct argument to make regarding the Maine income tax.

    Maine’s income tax – a progressive tax – is unconstitutional as there is no constitutional mandates that allows this. It punishes success (the more one makes, the more one pays), and it steals the labor of the people.

    The Maine income tax is unlawful right from the start.

    Why doesn’t anyone else besides myself that addresses this issue of unconstitutionality of the Maine income tax?

    Who cares about migration of the young, etc? That is not the primary issue.

    The Maine income tax is a fraud, and there is no such thing as a “fair” tax which would also be unconstitutional, too.

    Question: Would the elimination of the Maine income tax be replaced by a “fair” tax?

    Lise from Maine

  8. Tenuous link between eliminating the personal income tax–in a revenue short state, and boosting jobs all to retain youth who leave Maine to explore what the rest of world has to offer. Go to your local college campus and watch them flee to the corners of the globe; go to the recruiting stations and see them getting prepped for boot camp; go to the bus stations and see them waiting for their ticket to exciting opportunities everywhere but E. Puckerbrush, Maine.

    Got an ‘exit’ study or any research to back up this spurious claim? 

  9. New Hampshire has blossomed as a refugee state for people and new enterprises fleeing Mass. because there is no income tax.  New industry and business attracts young families and kids, some of whom may stick around because the higher education system is tech oriented, UNH has numerous graduate schools.  Mascoma has gone from being known for stock car racing to being home to many high tech businesses started by Asian entrepreneurs.  If a youth in Eastport wants a career in the fishing industry, they’ll find it in Norway or Chile.

    Berry, you’d do us a service by focusing on the youth who leave Bowdoinham instead of snippy comments. 

  10. Assuming they want some sort of viable employment and are not living off  dad or a trust fund, some travel and or relocation may be required.  The good high compensation career paths don’t start in Maine.

  11. “States that did well” reflect job growth and opportunity, something that Maine consistently has lacked.  Exhorbitant income tax levels (compared to many other states) is only one of the contributing factors.  Lack of opportunity, in part due to the demise of manufacturing here in Maine and the accompanying disappearance of a stable middle class, is also a strong factor. 

  12. They went Over The Bridge into The Real World, perhaps?

    Or was it Over the River and Through The Woods?

    The irony here is that this state has to HAVE something in order to ATTRACT something. Like job opportunities, a manufacturing industry, a system of education that isn’t obviously on a fail-forward track, less ripoffs in goods and services, a working healthcare system, insurance that isn’t set by your credit score, a friendly attitude to people “from away”,  a music scene that pays bands well so they stick around, decent roads, a landscape unlittered by foreclosed properties… etc.

    And inexpensive heating oil, and communities and stores not twenty to fifty miles apart, and less self-serving stupidity on the part of the political and legislative bodies.

    Maine is a poor state. It is so for many reasons. This will continue for the same reasons.

    There is next to zero foreseeable economic future for this state. The bleeding will only get worse, and the myopia as to its causes and solutions will only continue.

    If you’re smart, you’ll hunker down and let the pieces fall where they may. Stop buying stuff you don’t need. Try empowering yourself to fix things instead of being jacked as a consumer of goods of rapidly declining quality and inflating price.

    There is no way back.

    Start growing your own food. The stuff you buy in the supermarket, much of it is poisoning you already. Quit smoking cigarettes. Stop drinking so much booze. Stop feeding Big Pharma profits by saddling yourself with all the medication they try to foist off on you, much of that will poison you too.

    The author states that this is a puzzle. That the obvious cannot be perceived is a greater conundrum.

    The reason educated people move out of this state is a reflection that education still works to a degree…

    Income tax will eliminate itself. People can’t afford to live and work here as it is. Eliminating or reducing income taxes at and above upper-middle-class incomes will simply create a revenue shortfall that will keep the state bankrupt. And raising taxes on property owners and farmers will drive them out of here. Bye bye, state. The idea is a selling point for LePage who has yet to explain how the revenue shortfall will be made up.

    WE as a nation have already reached the tipping point years ago where the minimum taxable income is three times less than the actual minimum required to support one’s self. DO THE MATH. So eliminating that tax is gonna stimulate the flatline of today’s debt-ridden economy how, please? People are simply falling off the grid.

    It’s voodoo economics.  Taxing the rich more is the only solution, other than assuming that people will squander what little more money they might keep in the face of economic disarray, which is foolish at best.

    This state has a distinguished history of shooting itself in the foot. Anyone with any economic savvy can clearly see greener pastures elsewhere, and that will likely not change anytime soon.

    I respectfully submit that if this was the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana, the notoriety alone would boost revenues to epic amounts. Industrial hemp production: rope, textiles, petroleum substitutes, medical marijuana and recreational, taxable use. But instead, the DEA and police industry gets bucketloads of tax dollars to victimize people committing victimless offenses, when the revenue opportunity would be astounding by repealing Prohibition-era nonsense. That drives young people out of the state too. This state lives on pure assumptions and fantasies of eventual solvency. And no blowhard of a Governor will change that. 

    But as usual, this state preys upon potheads too, as well as farmers, young people, fishermen, the elderly, drunks, you name it…is THIS where the revenue shortfall from the flat-tax or no-tax proposal will be made up? 

    As I have heard from many people “from away”: “…who the hell wants to live in Maine? What does Maine have?”

    The real estate sure is nice in the on-season. Winter sucks. The roads suck. Maine will lose its appeal as a vacationland as the state slides further into economic hardship.

    It’s not so much that the income taxes are the problem. That’s a small piece of the issue. Some larger issues are: no jobs, low wages, harsh winters, overpriced goods and services, all hallmarks of a tanking dollar and an inflationary economy (except for Nature’s proclivities, naturally…)

    You go to school to learn to read the writing on the wall.

    It is either naive or disingenuous to expect that those who seek opportunity have failed in the aforementioned objective.

    -Billy the Poet

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