State-To-State Migration: South Carolina Is Winning At Something?

Palmetto State second only to Florida in net income influx …

When it comes to its overall economic output, South Carolina is most assuredly not “winning” – as its governor Henry McMaster likes to claim.

Nor is the Palmetto State “winning” when it comes to the income levels of its citizens or the size of its work force … (although there has been some modest improvement on that latter front of late).

Generally speaking, though, South Carolina lags behind its neighboring states and the rest of the nation economically … dragged down by the nation’s worst government-run school system and a political class that continues to incentivize institutional failure.

Also, we hate to break it to McMaster but doling out tens of millions of dollars to a liberal billionaire isn’t going to do a damn thing to change the Palmetto State’s underlying lack of economic competitiveness. Nor is the anemic “tax relief” the GOP-controlled state legislature provided this year – a paltry $67 million out of a budget totaling more than $30 billion (which included more than $1 billion in new spending).

Weak …

There is one area where South Carolina is “winning,” though – state-to-state migration.

According to a Bloomberg analysis released late last month, the Palmetto State scored a “net income influx” of 1.81 percent of its adjusted gross income in 2016. Only Florida – which registered a net income influx of 2.86 percent – did better.

The losers? Connecticut, New York and Illinois, which lost 1.6 percent, 1.1 percent and 1.09 percent of their adjusted gross incomes, respectively.


Bloomberg’s analysis was prepared by reporters Lee J. Miller and Wei Lu, and was based on data obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

In addition to the percentage of income lost, Miller and Lu also reported on the actual dollar amounts flowing in and out of the fifty states.

“New York’s annual net loss was the highest, with a net $8.4 billion leaving the state,” they wrote. “Exiting incomes of $19.1 billion were replaced by people who brought in $10.7 billion less in income. Illinois and New Jersey were next with net outflows of $4.8 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively.”

South Carolina picked up $2.3 billion …

Our view? While we would prefer to see the Palmetto State creating expanded employment opportunity and prosperity from within – by leveling the playing field for individual taxpayers and small businesses – incoming revenue is not a bad thing.

Assuming our elected officials can figure out how to focus the largesse on core functions of government as opposed to corporate giveaways and non-essential bureaucracies …

One final point: South Carolina could also better compete with Florida for this revenue by adopting the Sunshine State’s prohibition against taxing retirement income.

Or for that matter, adopting its prohibition against taxing income at the state level.



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