In a survey they might as well have
subtitled "The Grass is Always Greener," Gallup found that about a
third of Americans would, if given the opportunity, pick a different state in
which to live. Even in those states where
the largest percentage of residents were satisfied to stay put, almost a
quarter would leave if they could.
In three states nearly as many
people want to leave as want to stay. Fifty
percent of those surveyed in Illinois indicated a desire to move as did 49
percent in Connecticut and 47 percent in Maryland. Other states where at least four out of ten
residents felt they would be happier elsewhere included Nevada, Rhode Island,
New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.
In contrast only 23 percent of
residents of Montana, Hawaii, and Maine expressed a desire to move, closely
followed by Oregon, New Hampshire, and Texas with 24 percent and Colorado and
Minnesota with 25 percent.
In the survey conducted over the
last six months of 2013, Gallup asked respondents, "Regardless of whether you will
move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another
state, or would you rather remain in your current state?"
Gallup also asked how likely it was
that respondents would move in the next 12 months. An average of 6 percent of residents said it
was extremely or very likely they would relocate within a year and 8 percent
said it was somewhat likely.
Seventy-three percent said such a move was not likely at all and 14
percent said it was not too likely. Those
who indicated any degree of likelihood of moving were asked an open-ended
question as to why. While the sample size was small, the most frequent reason
cited was for work or business, a nationwide average of 31 percent. Nineteen percent of respondents indicated any
move would be related to family or social reasons while weather or location was
given by 11 percent and a better quality of life or desiring change by 9
Gallup said that state leaders have
important reasons for wanting continued population growth; more commerce,
economic vitality, and a larger tax base.
A shrinking population not only presents less healthy economic possibilities
but can mean a loss of political clout through reduced Congressional
representation. The company says its poll finds some states "far
better positioned than others to retain residents, and thus possibly attract
new ones." Not only is there a wide
variation in the percentage of residents who say they would leave if they
could, but when responses about the likelihood of a move within the year are
combined, other danger signals flash.
Gallup finds that Nevada, Illinois,
Maryland, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and Connecticut appear particularly
vulnerable to losing population in the coming few years. High percentages of residents say they would
leave and larger than average numbers indicate some likelihood of actually
doing so. However, Texas, Minnesota, and
Maine have little to fear. Residents of these states are among the least likely
to want to leave and few are planning on it in the next 12 months.
Gallup notes that it has conducted
three other 50-state polls measuring resident satisfaction with state taxes,
state government, and perceptions of how the resident's state compares to
others as a place to live. Texas has
ranked in the top ten in all three while Illinois, Rhode Island, and Maryland were
near the bottom in each.