Why Americans Are Moving from Blue to Red States

In this op-ed, Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore analyze the recent Census findings showing renewed migration from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and Southwest. They note the movement is clearly from blue states to red, and explain why.
Ninjatacoshell / Wikimedia Commons

The earlier Census Bureau findings reported here showed the movement to predominantly politically red (Republican) states from blue (Democratic) states. Laffer, a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his two terms (1981-1989) and chairman of Laffer Associates, and Moore of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, attribute the economic attraction of the red states to three reasons:

  1. Low or zero income taxes: "We predict that within a decade five or six states in Dixie could entirely eliminate their income taxes. This would mean that the region stretching from Florida through Texas and Louisiana could become a vast state income-tax free zone", they write.
  2. Business-friendly, as in the restrictiveness of regulations that could stifle business growth. The fracking moratorium in New York is held up as a model for "business-unfriendly" and point to neighboring Pennsylvania where the natural gas industry is flourishing. In energy-intensive Texas, four of the top ten metro areas (in growth) were located.
  3. Having "right-to-work" laws that make it more difficult to unionize workers. In addition, they blame high minimum wage laws that "price low-income workers out of the job market."
The writers neglect to mention that the domestic migration merely resumed, returning to the pattern that existed prior to the recession, as William Frey of the Brookings Institution explained in the earlier Wall Street Journal article, for reasons not mentioned in their opinion piece. For example, "(F)ewer people are stuck in one place because they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth," suggesting that economic conditions have improved in those blue states. 

Laffer and Moore see domestic migration as vindication that the low tax and business friendly policies of red states are succeeding while high tax and business unfriendly policies in the blue states are failing.

Readers responded - offering additional reasons for the domestic migration.  

See the 15 fastest growing large metros in this Washington Post article.

Correspondent's note: Access to Wall Street Journal articles for non-subscribers may be limited after April 11.


Full Story: Opinion: Laffer and Moore: The Red-State Path to Prosperity



Irvin Dawid's picture

A similar Opinion on the California emigration...

...by WSJ editorial board writer Allysia Finley was summarized here : "Leaving California - A Wall Street Journal Explanation. Laffer and Moore left out CA from the group of blue states migrating to red states - strangely odd as it does fit into the pattern they discuss. They did note, though, that fracking in the vast Monterey Shale basin with its massive oil reserves is following a similar pattern seen in NY.

Irvin Dawid's picture

Louisiana opts out of "income-tax free" states

re: "This would mean that the region stretching from Florida through Texas and Louisiana could become a vast state income-tax free zone", they write.

Not quite.
Laura Clawson for Daily Kos has a good write-up of Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to "give up on his extremist plan".....

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