Demographic Winter: To where do Mainers flee?


According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, Maine lost an estimated 11,051 residents due to out-migration.

Troubling demographic trends have received much attention across the state and from all political persuasions. The latest numbers show that Maine’s demographic winter is far from thawing.

So where is everyone going?

Net Migration, Maine, 2011-2012
Click to expand

The above chart shows immigration trends for from and to Maine. A negative number indicates a net loss of Mainers to that state, while a positive number shows net gain.

According to the ACS data, the top five recipients of Maine’s outbound migrants were: Florida (4,422), New Hampshire (2,463), South Carolina (1,904), Missouri (927), and Texas (797). (Net numbers)

The top five states people left for Maine are: New York (1,174), Rhode Island (745), Kentucky (436), California (354), and Colorado (294). (Net numbers)

[RELATED: Demographic Winter has severe economic consequences for Maine…]

Jonathan E. Reisman, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Maine in Machias, said the demographic trends reflected in the new census numbers are the result of policies emanating from Augusta. He said the trends are not going to reverse unless Maine moves away from a culture of wealth redistribution and toward a culture of wealth creation.

“It took 30 years of progressive policies to turn Maine into a welfare state,” said Reisman. “Instead of Sweden, we got Greece.”

Reisman said the one thing the places Maine residents are moving to have in common is greater economic freedom, adding that Maine currently ranks 39th in the Mercatus Center’s index of economic freedom.

As for a solution to Maine’s demographic winter, Reisman recommends stopping the overregulation of Maine’s businesses, reforming entitlement programs and continuing to reduce the income tax.

“Two years of GOP control started us in the right direction,” he said. “But with Democrats and progressives back in control of the legislature, what have we got? Tax increases, more regulations, and a larger state footprint on the economy.”

He said whether the state will continue with progressive policies or chart a new direction toward greater economic freedom depends largely on the forthcoming gubernatorial election.

“[Democrats] want to add to Medicaid and they’ve already raised taxes. Their agenda couldn’t be clearer,” he said.

[RELATED: House Speaker’s event seeks to address demographic winter…]

“It will be very clear in the election… Michaud’s about growing the entitlement state. So is Cutler. Instead of market capitalism, he’s about crony capitalism,” he said.

“The problem is that Governor LePage’s support – which is support for economic freedom – is only one-third of the electorate.”

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter


  1. Jon is definitely the wittiest political commentator in Maine; he nailed the impact of state policies on the net in & out migration with the linguistic ease of an Elmore Leonard. Even Al Diamond doesn’t have this magic touch using as few words possible.


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