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EDITORIAL: Lessons from Nevada’s healthy population gains

Statistics compiled by United Van Lines reveal that Nevada continues to grow by attracting new residents from other states. The company survey found that 62 percent of its Silver State customers moved into Nevada, while 38 percent moved out. That puts the state among the national leaders in domestic migration gains.

The numbers, while anecdotal, track well with census figures released last month that put Nevada, which recently surpassed 3 million people, tops in the nation for population growth. Between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018, the state grew by more than 2 percent, the fastest rate in the country. That included a net gain of 48,000 new residents who came here from other parts of the country.

There is a lesson here, particularly when one considers California and other high-tax jurisdictions.

Despite its favorable climate, ocean views and booming economy, California would actually be losing population were it not for a combination of its birthrate and an influx of illegal immigrants. According to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, “for many years, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been moving here.” In the past decade, the state has lost more than 1 million residents to other states. The most popular destinations? Low-tax, high-opportunity locales such as Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

A similar trend can be seen in other progressive bastions. Illinois, New York and Connecticut continue to see residents flee their high taxes and burdensome regulations for less oppressive climes. No doubt, the weather and manufacturing trends have played a part in migration patterns. But the correlation between policy choices and population trends is hard to miss.

“A large share of mostly younger, middle-aged people,” said Michael Stoll, a public policy professor at UCLA, “are looking to move to Nevada from California to escape high housing costs.”

In a September op-ed for The Orange County Register, Joel Kotkin of Chapman University and public policy expert Wendell Cox argue the exodus from the Golden State is a harbinger of future problems.

“Today, even some of the state’s determined progressives understand that taking the ‘California model’ national seems implausible when significant numbers of Californians are headed in large numbers to red Texas or purple Nevada,” they wrote. California, they conclude, “is in danger of pricing itself out for moderate wage earners, and particularly families.”

The lesson for Nevada politicians is clear. Promoting prosperity, job creation and growth requires protecting and nurturing tax, housing and economic policies that attract capital and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. States that have chosen the opposite path eventually must face the daunting consequences.

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