The exodus – will it increase?

It’s funny – I was at a bit of a loss to find something to write about today when Kim and I received a letter in the mail from a friend of hers. In it was the note which said “Miss you but I love Florida!” The friend in question moved down there a year ago to take a job in her industry.

Admittedly, there is a lot to love about Florida in terms of weather. The one year I spent Christmas down there I was sitting on my parents’ porch in shorts because it was 80 degrees out. That was somewhat of an anomaly for the season, but the fact is the Sunshine State doesn’t see a whole lot of snow and cold. Florida in 2014 is sort of like southern California in 1964, as millions moved there for the perpetually sunny and nice weather as well as the chance to create opportunity for themselves.

That got me to thinking about how many people I know have left this area, many for Florida or the Carolinas. Sometimes to me it’s a wonder that people stay around here given the broad litany of complaints people make about the region. On the surface I think it has many of the same qualities which attracted me in the first place – although last winter’s snow and cold made me think I was back in Ohio again.

But there is an economic side, and that factor has influenced the decision of many who have left the state to go to areas where taxes are lower and business opportunities more plentiful. Job creation hasn’t seemed to be job one for those in charge of the state because we’ve lost jobs while other states have picked up the pace.

Over the last few days I’ve talked quite a bit about the state’s budget shortfall, particularly in terms of what it means for the governor’s race. Sadly, I would estimate there are probably 20,000 Hogan votes that have left the state during this last cycle because they couldn’t hang on any longer or found better opportunities. On the other hand, ask yourself: if you lived in another state, what would you move to Maryland to do? About the only answer I could come up with was be in government, whether for Uncle Sam or a local branch office thereof. Even those who like the region seem to be moving to Sussex County, Delaware – it grew at a faster pace than the state of Delaware as a whole over the last three years while all nine Eastern Shore counties were short of Maryland’s (slower) overall growth rate, with three counties of the nine declining in population. A lack of local good-paying jobs is a complaint we’ve heard here for years.

I think the fear among many in my circle of friends – many of whom were raised here and care deeply about the state – is that another four to eight years under the same sort of governance will seal the state’s doom, much like the economic basket case that is California. That was a state which had all sorts of advantages in terms of attracting families but has squandered many of them away through their treatment of job creators. Like Maryland, it’s a state that seems attractive on the surface but living there is another thing, from what I’m told. (I’ve never visited the state, so it’s all second-hand knowledge on this one.)

Electing Larry Hogan could be the start of a comeback, but the problem isn’t just something which can be solved by a single chief executive. Rooting out the entirety of the issue would take a generation of conservative leadership with a General Assembly re-purposed to solving problems rather than protecting turf or enacting worthless feelgood legislation. But if nothing, not even the first step, is done this time, the exodus is sure to continue and increase.

3 thoughts on “The exodus – will it increase?”

  1. This is awesome. I love when someone fails to do their homework. Sussex County was just enveloped by the Salisbury MSA because the percentage of daily immigration for employment has increased dramatically in the last 4 years (so was Worcester County). The jobs are not in Sussex.

  2. Well, let’s see Jon. I know some portion of the growth is retirees who tend to prefer Delaware for its lower taxes, but let’s look at jobs. In fact, Sussex County IS adding jobs – 1,024 in the last 12 months, driving unemployment down to 5.3% from 5.9%. On the other hand, here in Wicomico County (roughly half the size of Sussex) we have LOST 413 jobs year over year, although our rate dropped to 7.7% from 7.9%.

    Meanwhile, the same statistics (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s a long chart) show that 7 of the 9 Eastern Shore counties have LOST jobs over the last year – Cecil is up 281 and Queen Anne’s is up 118, but Dorchester is down 41, Caroline is down 51, Somerset down 82, Talbot down 367, Wicomico down 413, Kent down 469, and Worcester is down 848. That’s a net job loss to the Eastern Shore of 1,872 jobs.

    Gee, Sussex County gained a good portion of the jobs our Eastern Shore counties lost. Add Kent County, Delaware to the list (up 1,240 jobs) and that’s where the Shore’s jobs may have gone.

    So those fewer people who work in Wicomico County may be moving to Delaware for the lower taxes and/or better schools yet keeping their jobs here. But the job growth is indeed in Delaware.

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