United Van Lines has just released its 36th annual study of relocation patterns of people who move between states. They've reviewed their 2012 records and can tell us the percentage of moves that were into and out of each state.|
(I'm not talking about moving between emotional states, such as when a newspaper column is slow to get to the point and moves readers from a state of mild interest to a state of barely contained impatience. Stick with me.)
I don't quite understand the methodology of the study, but if you've ever hired professional movers, you, too, probably don't understand the methodology by which a cardboard carton can arrive in perfect condition, but the dishes inside are smashed.
Regardless of how they compiled it, the report is loaded with interesting statistics. For the fifth consecutive year, Washington, D.C. led the continental U.S. as a relocation destination; 64 percent of all moves to or from D.C. last year were inbound. (OK, Washington D.C. isn't really a state -- it's a few square miles of scandal, graft and bribery, sort of like the State of Illinois boiled down to its basic ingredients.)
Close behind was Oregon, with 61 percent of moves inbound. It was Oregon's third year in second place. Something about the scent of fresh ocean air must be drawing Americans west, although it could be the scent of fresh marijuana.
Closer to home, the figures are a bit more, shall we say, dour and depressing. Iowa and Indiana were break-even states, with roughly the same number of people moving in as moving out. This makes them Midwestern champions. Michigan, for instance, suffered an outbound rate of 58 percent. Considering that it was the most left-behind state for four years running, this is actually an improvement.
Wisconsin's outbound rate was 55 percent, but those cow-herding cheeseheads will have to flee in greater numbers if they want regional recognition, because Illinois leads the flight out of the Midwest with a 60 percent outbound rate.
This doesn't surprise me. During my lifetime, four Illinois governors have moved out of the state for extended periods of time. (They didn't pay professional movers -- the state covered their relocation expenses.) A state can't expect to grow in population and prestige when half the executive branch and two-thirds of the legislators are eligible for one-way tickets to Terra Haute.
I have no doubt that Illinois' net loss of residents is related to the corruption which is as native to our state as sweet corn. We led the nation in outbound moves in 2011, but lost the title as America's Most Abandoned State in 2012 to New Jersey. Last year, almost two-thirds of the moving van drivers who crossed the New Jersey state line saw the "Welcome to the Garden State" sign shrinking into the distance in their rear-view mirrors.
You have to ask yourself where all these people from Illinois and New Jersey are moving to. Since New Jersey rivals Illinois in influence-peddling and sleazy government, the answer is obvious: they're moving to Washington, D.C. These deserters are primarily Chicago Illinoisans and Newark Jerseyites who have mastered their skills at nest-feathering and pocket-filling and now seek bigger opportunities.
And you can't blame them. Sure, there are millions to be made in state Capitol cloakrooms, but that's farm league competition. The major league money is Washington, where corruption is king, and the lure is irresistible.
What prairie Little Leaguer has never dreamed of pitching in Wrigley Field?
Frank Mullen III of Aledo is a former Navy band leader.