THE ECONOMIST: Staying put!

More than any other state, people born in Texas stay in Texas. The U.S. Bureau of the Census recently released data indicating the state of residence by place of birth. When you look at the percentage of people born in Texas, still living in the United States and, in fact, still living in Texas, you get more than 82% as of 2021. That’s considerably higher than anywhere else.

Other states where people tend to stay include North Carolina (75%), Georgia (74%), California (73%), and Utah (73%). At the other end of the spectrum are Wyoming, where only 45% of people born there remained as of 2021, North Dakota, Alaska, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Various researchers have been looking at this data including staff at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; among other things, it’s an interesting indicator of economic health.

One obvious reason people who are born here stay here is that the Lone Star State has one of the most dynamic economies anywhere. Without job opportunities, people may be forced to leave. It’s that simple.

For years, Texas has been among the top performing states for economic growth. One historical reason is abundant resources ranging from oil and gas reserves to a large supply of arable and developable land. There have also been key initiatives to nurture and grow industries ranging from technology to biosciences and other emerging sectors. State and local economic development efforts have also borne fruit. I could go on, as has infrastructure development.

Texas was one of the first states to get back to pre-pandemic levels of employment and has been adding jobs at a brisk clip ever since. It’s also historically been a place where home prices were far more approachable than, say, California or New York. While some of the gap has disappeared with rising costs for housing in Texas, there are still notable benefits. Add to that the lack of an income tax, and the advantages increase.

In an era of worker shortages and long-term demographic patterns pointing to the adequacy of the labor force being a persistent problem, it’s a competitive advantage that there isn’t a “brain drain” out of the state. At the same time, if people are going to stay here, it’s crucial to ensure we’re investing enough to maintain the upward trajectory in opportunities and quality of life.

An essential need is education, from K-12 through higher education and career training. Health care is another, and the state’s large percentage of residents without health insurance is of particular concern. We’ll also need other resources, from highways to broadband. It’s a very good thing that people want to stay in Texas. Let’s keep it that way! Stay safe!