Hey, You Forgot Oregon

Hey, You Forgot Oregon

Last Thursday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal carried an article titled “Californians Aren’t the Only Tax Refugees” which was a follow-on to a previous articles about California’s revenue shortfall for 2023 despite a massive budget surplus for 2022. The surpluses in California were due singularly to the massive amount of COVID relief money* pumped out by President Joe Biden (D) and his spendthrift Democrat controlled Congress in 2020 through 2022. Following are the relevant excerpts from the Journal story – including the sub-headline which basically tells it all.

Smaller states show the same pattern: Americans vote with their feet against onerous government.

Gov. Gavin Newsom went to Austin, Texas, last year to tout his own state, California. Speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival, he said that conservative governors are “doubling down on stupid, and we will not follow their path. We’re going in a completely different direction.” He’s right about the latter point. Recent Census data confirm that Californians are going in a different direction—they’re fleeing their state in droves.

. . Although many socioeconomic factors explain this population exodus, my research points to California’s high state and local taxes as the primary culprit.

The Tax Foundation’s 2020 State Business Tax Climate report ranks California’s state and local taxes as the second highest in the nation, just below New Jersey and above New York. People are fleeing these states. As a percentage of its population. . .

Low taxes also correlate with people moving in. Texas had a positive net migration of 231,000 people. That comes to 769 per 100,000 in population, or the 11th-highest gain of any state. When the Tax Foundation ranked states lowest to highest in state and local taxes, Texas came in 11th. Florida had the third-highest net migration as a share of its population, at 1,433 per 100,000. . .”

A December 28, 2022, article by KOIN 6 NEWS, noted:

(KOIN) – Oregon was one of the fastest-shrinking states in 2022, according to estimates from the U.S, Census Bureau.

Oregon saw an estimated loss of 16,164 residents between July 2021 and July 2022, representing a .4% loss in the total population. That loss puts Oregon in line with other far-western states, including Hawaii at negative .05% and California at negative .03% change.

* * *

Oregon was also 6th in estimated net population decrease, losing a similar number of residents to West Virginia and Louisiana.

I searched for any demographic information on those leaving the state but could not find it without access to unpublished governmental data and even then I doubt it would be particularly enlightening. However, there is some information relative to employment that might suggest an answer.

Most government apologists turn first to the unemployment numbers but they are grossly misleading – particularly in the last several years. The unemployment numbers only reflect those seeking a job – the qualification for receiving unemployment compensation. Those numbers don’t actually measure the number of Oregonians who are capable of work but are without a job. In last week’s column I established that that number qualifying working age Oregonians without employment is about 1,360,000 which is a far cry from the 96,700 recognized by the state’s unemployment figures**.

A quick look at the labor force participation numbers published each month by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms how badly the unemployment rate distorts Oregon’s employment picture. Oregon’s Labor Force Participation Index is 63.4 percent which means that 36.5 percent of those capable of working (excluding the military and those providing care for their minor children) are not employed.

A significant reason for the low unemployment numbers is the plethora of welfare compensation programs from the reckless spending by Congress in the name of COVID. However COVID had little to do with how the money was distributed and more to do with increasing government dependency. As the new Congress seeks ways to reduce inflation by reducing deficit spending by the federal government, high on their list should be a significant reduction and/or consolidation of these programs with increased means testing. (Maybe they can transfer some percentage of those 87,000 new IRS agents to the social welfare agencies to reduce the number of work-shy parasites in Oregon.)

But here is the kicker. Oregon’s employment and its population began their decline in about July of 2022. In 2022, according to the Census Bureau, Oregon had a net outward migration of 17,000. Approximately 15,000 people moved to Oregon which means that 32,000 people left the state. That may not seem like an insignificant number given the state’s total population. However, from July through the end of the November** *

the number of people working went from 2,128,649 to 2,102,243 by the end of November – that reflects a job loss of 24,406. That suggests that nearly everyone that left Oregon took a job with them. That conclusion is also reflected in the population to employment ratio which dropped from about 61.75 to about 60.75.

That also suggests that working men and women are leaving the state while the slackers, welfare dependents and other drains on society are moving in to replace them. Oregon’s “homeless” population was 13,428 in 2021 and has risen to 14,655 at the beginning of 2023.

So for the socialists among you, the Portland based liberal/progressives, and the moronic politicians who run Oregon, this should make you jump for joy – more government dependency means more loyalty to the liberal/progressives. For those left to pay the bills – well, you have my ongoing condolences.


* The Biden stimulus wasn’t necessary and was spent by many states to increase the pay of public employees. That resulted in increasing the budgetary base from which the next year’s budget is constructed. These “one time” shots of revenue resulting in long term budget increases impose a stupid decision by the federal government back on to the taxpayers forever.

**It’s no wonder that Oregon’s Democrat governors can brag about Oregon’s 3.7% unemployment. They are only counting those receiving unemployment benefits and ignoring fourteen times that number that are not currently employed.

***The latest data available.