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.