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Why are so many people leaving Minnesota for other states?


Is it the cold? The taxes? Or maybe the lutefisk?

Despite being ranked as Politico's Number 1. state just last week, people are leaving Minnesota in droves, and they are not being replaced.

A study by the Minnesota State Demographic Center points out that every year, around 113,000 residents left Minnesota, while only 101,000 arrived from other states (with a further 24,000 coming from foreign countries).

Because of this, the report concludes that international migrants will be vital in keeping Minnesota's economy strong in future years, as retiring baby boomers will leave a huge gap in the labor force and will see deaths outstrip births for the first time in the state's history, the Star Tribune notes.

Some Minnesotans do not go far, with Wisconsin (16 percent) and North Dakota (12 percent) the most popular destination, but plenty head for the "Sun Belt," with Arizona and Texas each claiming 6 percent of leavers.

Similarly, of the 101,000 entering Minnesota every year, more than a third come from border states North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, with the rest from elsewhere in the United States.

The college factor

Unsurprisingly, migration out of the state is at its highest among 18 to 24-year-olds, as they head off to college after graduating from high school.

But Minnesota loses more students than it gains, with the report finding 29,000 students head elsewhere for higher education every year, with Wisconsin and North Dakota again the most popular destination. Meanwhile, only 21,000 come in from other states.

This accounts for two-thirds of the 12,000 people a year Minnesota is said to be losing to domestic migration, and the number returning to the state after graduating college is said to be "far fewer" than the number leaving.

The report says this is a compelling argument to boost the state's higher education institutions to keep more Minnesotans here, with the study suggesting that other Midwest states may have better colleges, cheaper courses, or more favorable admissions criteria.

Conversely, the stereotype of retirees moving to warmer states to see out their twilight years isn't proved by the statistics, with the report finding the likelihood of 65 to 74-year-olds leaving Minnesota is actually very low, with 99 percent choosing to stay in this state.

But what else could be the cause?

In a piece written last April, the Star Tribune suggested that Minnesota's higher-than-average taxes could be responsible, as they may lead to more people renting –instead of buying– homes.

This "rental state," the newspaper argues, discourages people from laying down roots in Minnesota and makes it easier for them to relocate.

But MPR spoke to the Tax Foundation's Richard Morrison, who says that taxes do not tell the whole story of why people are leaving, as studies have shown that plenty of Minnesotans migrate to places where taxes are higher – like California.

"There are a bunch of financial reasons, and the tax burden might be one of them," he said. "But there are different things, like whether this is a place where you want to retire, this is a place you want to move because it has nicer weather, whether you want to be closer to family."

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