Report: Massachusetts lost population, total income in 2020

(The Center Square) – Massachusetts suffered one of the highest rates of outmigration in 2020, according to a new report that studied population trends during the pandemic-fueled year.

Wirepoints, an Illinois-based research and commentary organization, delved into population fluctuations in its latest analysis, using Internal Revenue Service data as the backdrop for its findings.

According to IRS’ 2020 filings, Massachusetts ranked No. 44 in migration trends, indicating population loss. The state lost 149,122 IRS filers in 2020 and gained 112,140 new ones, resulting in a net decrease of 36,982 people.

The amount of adjusted gross income funneled into Massachusetts in 2020 also followed a similar downward trajectory.

According to the IRS data, $9.49 billion in adjusted gross income left the state in 2020, while $6.94 billion was brought in, resulting in a net deficit of $2.55 billion for the year.

Massachusetts’ population trends have been a recent talking point as Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature have hammered out the state’s 2023 fiscal year budget.

Early this year, Baker cautioned both chambers of the General Assembly against measures such as wealth taxes, arguing they could impact Massachusetts’ long-term fiscal state.

“I worried about that less before the pandemic,” Baker said at a February budget hearing about Massachusetts tax competitiveness. “I worry about it more now. I think we stand out in what I would consider a very negative way.”

According to the analysis, New York suffered the highest rate of outmigration and adjusted gross income in 2020.

Wirepoints authors Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner in the report outlined the impact trending population outmigration can have on a state’s overall fiscal health.

“The problem with chronic outflows, like in the case of New York, is that one year’s losses don’t only affect the tax base the year they leave, but they also hurt all subsequent years,” Dabrowski and Klinger wrote. “The losses pile up on top of each other, year after year.”

Massachusetts’ total 2020 population loss, according to the IRS findings, resulted in a 0.5% decline in year-over-year comparisons.

New York shed a total of 2.5% of its 2019 population the following year when all was said and done. Illinois, which lost the second highest amount of its residents in the heaviest pandemic year, incurred population declines of 1.9%, followed by Alaska at 1.3%, California at 1.2% and North Dakota at 1%.

Outside of New York, all of Massachusetts’ neighbors fared better in the 2020 population analysis.

New Hampshire’s population increased 0.7%, while Vermont’s did so to the tune of 0.5%. Rhode Island was flat with a nearly identical number of outmigration and in migration IRS filers, and Connecticut declined 0.1%.

Across the U.S., Idaho gained the most in population in 2020 (2%), followed by Arizona, Montana and South Carolina at 1.1%, Delaware at 1%, Nevada at 0.9% and Maine and Florida at 0.8%.

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