Frequently I get e-mails saying if I don’t like what’s happening in Indiana, I should move, preferably to Illinois. So I was delighted last week when the U.S. Census Bureau released estimated migration data for 2013 to see what’s actually happening.

In 2013, 15,800 persons lived in Illinois who were residents of Indiana a year earlier. That’s 12 percent of the 135,500 Hoosiers who left the state in that period. Fewer people from other states (133,500) became Indiana residents and 23 percent of them (30,600) came from Illinois. Thus, for every person leaving the Hoosier Holyland for Illinois, nearly two were coming to this Pensive State.

Indiana gained population from 25 states and the District of Columbia while losing to 24 states. After Illinois, the states receiving 10,000 or more Hoosiers were Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Texas. While Indiana had a net population gain from Illinois of 14,800, we lost 9,600 to our other three neighboring states. 

Thus, our four adjoining states accounted for one-third of our out-migration and 29 percent of our in-migration. On balance, our net out-migration was almost balanced at just fewer than 2,000 persons.

The state government has been eager to attract businesses from Illinois to Indiana. They have not made an equal pitch for residents, but no doubt now will claim the uneven transformation of Illini to Hoosiers is due to Indiana’s low business and individual taxes, our state surplus of funds, low debt obligations and relaxed regulations – as if these were the major reasons people move.

An alternative explanation is the on-going expansion of Chicago (Cook County) into its hinterlands. For 2013, the number of people moving from Cook Co. to Northwest Indiana (NWI) was just over 10,500 or 64 percent of the 16,400 persons who left Cook Co. for Indiana. Meanwhile, of the 9,100 Hoosiers who moved to Cook Co., 5,000 (55 percent) came from NWI. The draw of Chicago for Hoosiers traditionally has been great and is naturally strongest in the region closest to that great city. That Chicago continues to expand in our direction is not necessarily a testimony to our state policies.

The data for 15 metropolitan areas containing Indiana counties are built upon the period 2009 to 2013, while the estimates discussed above were for the year 2012-13.

The Chicago metro area had the highest percent of non-movers (88 percent) while Bloomington, a smaller college town had the lowest percent of persons (70 percent) who lived in the same residence a year later. Only the three college towns of Bloomington, Muncie and Lafayette saw more than ten percent of residents move into their metro areas from elsewhere.

For the sum of the 15 metro areas, new-comers accounted for only 3.2 percent of the population. When we leave out the Chicago area, new-comers rise only to 4.2 percent of residents. Where is that new, stimulating and reviving blood in our region? Is there a deficiency in our Hoosier Hospitality?

Mr. Marcus is an economist, writer, and speaker who may be reached at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com

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