Debra had a question: are people really moving out of Connecticut? And if so, why and to where?
So, she started a Facebook group called “People Who Have Left or are Leaving Connecticut,” to get answers to who, what, why and, most importantly, where Connecticut residents are going.
In just 18 days membership grew to nearly 604 people, all saying they have left, are leaving or want to leave Connecticut. In the two days between Debra’s interview with Yankee Institute and publication of this article, membership had grown to 864.
“It was just a question of mine,” Debra said, who asked that only her first name be used. “But it’s become a part-time job.”
Debra said she tries to keep the conversation limited to the particulars of moving – what moving companies people use, what states they want to move to — but members often venture into politics, saying Connecticut’s government is one of their chief reasons for leaving.
“People are angry,” Debra said. “With all the taxes and tolls and nickle-and-diming. People from other states are writing in and telling others how good it is once they leave.”
Debra says the biggest complaint among members is Connecticut’s cost of living. “They simply can’t afford it,” she said, and she sympathizes. “I may not be able to stay.”
She made the site a closed group because many members don’t want friends, family and employers to see they are thinking of moving.
While Debra may have been shocked by the response to her Facebook page, the history of Connecticut’s population loss goes back to 2013 when the state’s population began declining year after year.
Studies and reports from both the federal government and the State of Connecticut show Connecticut is losing population to states like Florida, North Carolina and Texas which often have no income tax or lower property taxes.
One of the largest groups leaving the state is retirees who, now living on a fixed income, leave for states with fewer taxes and a lower cost of living.
But they aren’t the only group leaving. Young people often leave for college and stay in whatever state they receive their education and working-age people leave for employment as Connecticut’s economy has lagged behind most other states.
United Van’s annual moving study reported that more people were moving out of Connecticut than in and the primary reason was employment.
The Internal Revenue Service also found that in 2015 Connecticut saw a net loss of $2.6 billion in adjusted gross income as wealthier people left the state and were replaced by those earning less.
Lawmakers have responded by trying to keep pension and social security income tax deductions in place during years in which the state faces budget deficits. The 2019 budget approved by the House and Senate did not raise taxes on retirees.
But the state also instituted a so-called “mansion tax,” which levies a conveyance tax for any property that sells for over $2.5 million – but the tax only takes effect if the seller moves out of state within three years, essentially making it an exit tax for the wealthy.
Connecticut also has to contend with the loss of businesses. Major employers like General Electric and Alexion have moved their headquarters out of state and, with the passage of Connecticut’s new $15 minimum wage, at least one manufacturer in Waterbury says they will have no choice to relocate the business.
Debra says that in the past people often talked of moving but she believes that now “people are actually taking steps to do it.”
“They’re struggling to make ends meet,” Debra said. “It’s not a joke anymore.”