Published Date : December 1, 2003
Author(s) : Adam Friedman

Through a detailed analysis of IRS migration data and Census 2000, we offer the definitive look at who has been moving in and out of Massachusetts during the last dozen years. While the numbers show us how the Bay State has changed in the recent past, they also herald a future that may surprise you.

For example, over the last 12 years – including those of unprecedented economic expansion – Massachusetts lost, on net, 213,000 residents to other states. This tells us that a strong job market alone is not enough to attract and keep workers. Still, the story is not a simple one.

Two factors seem to be at work:

Middle class flight is on the rise. An increasing number of native-born Massachusetts residents are leaving their home state for other New England states, most notably, New Hampshire. Five years ago, we lost – on net – 3,214 people to our neighbors. By 2002, that number had jumped almost 400% to 15,811.

We are narrowly winning our fight to attract young, highly educated talent from our economic competitor states – places like New York, New Jersey, California, and North Carolina. We gained – on net – 14,428 people over the last dozen years. This is a small number, but it offers state leaders a foundation on which to build a more aggressive, creative strategy for attracting and keeping this valuable population.

Should these trends continue, the next Census may reveal a more economically and socially stratified Commonwealth than the one we live in today. We at MassINC have always believed that a vital and growing middle class is the bedrock of a successful and livable community. We let these families slip away at our peril.

It is our hope that MASS.migration is the start of an important statewide conversation on how Massachusetts can remain a place of opportunity for people on every rung of the economic ladder.

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