Oh boy, there are going to be some angry people over at the RI Stateline Coalition (RISC) office. That's over at 3949 Old Post Road here in town. After a year of touting a "study" by OSPRI that claimed to show that Rhode Island's taxes were forcing rich people to move away to Florida and the like, yet another new study shows that this story is simply not true.
The University of Massachusetts study looked at all six New England states together and individually and relied on a detailed analysis of patterns shown in US census data to draw its conclusions. This methodology contrasted sharply with OSPRI's scientific method which was to survey the friends of RISC founder Harry Staley and Hasbro honcho Alan Hassenfeld.
The census numbers show that when unemployment goes up, population declines drastically as more people leave Rhode Island and a lot fewer people move to the state.
Oddly, the study data shows that when taxes go up, fewer people leave the state and a lot fewer people move here. The numbers smash OSPRI's theory about tax increases.
The statistics show affordable housing to have a positive effect (depending on how you define "positive") on population by causing fewer people to leave and more people to move here. In our Charlestown bizarro world, of course, we view population loss as a good thing.
But what about all the Rhode Islanders who have moved to Florida? Didn't they move there because there's no income tax. Well, I know Florida is a popular state of residence with many Rhode Islanders, but establishing residence is not the same as actually living there, a subject I will return to tomorrow.
I'll close with these facts for you to chew on. First, most people never move out of state for any reason. Only 3% of the population moves to another state in any given year and 57% have never lived in another state. According to IRS tax return statistics, Florida was not the top choice of Rhode Islanders moving out - Massachusetts was the top pick by a margin of two and a half to one over Florida . And for every two Rhode Islanders who take up residence in Florida, one Floridian decides to chuck the bugs, hurricanes and sweat to move to Rhode Island. Go figure that out, OSPRI.