A couple of weeks ago, Sunlight pushed back on the Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran’s claim that New Jersey’s outmigration problem was a “fantasy. We pointed out that, yes, New Jersey’s population might have grown slightly, but the key metric was New Jersey’s massive net outmigration to other states not simply overall population growth. New Jersey’s population grew only because of international immigration and unfortunately those in-migrants earn much less income than those who are fleeing NJ for other states. Consequently, New Jersey has seen a massive outflow of wealth. All of which bodes ill for the future.
But now it turns out that in 2021, New Jersey was one of 17 states that saw its population decline. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, New Jersey lost -0.14% of its population, which was 39th-worst among the states. Pew explains why this bodes ill for New Jersey’s future:
“Population trends are tied to states’ economic fortunes and government finances. More people usually means more workers and consumers adding to economic activity as they take jobs and buy goods and services, which generates more tax revenue. A growing economy, in turn, can attract even more workers and their families. The reverse is usually true for states with shrinking or slow-growing populaces.”
So in the case of New Jersey, a shrinking population – along with its shrinking wealth – portends a weaker economy and lower tax revenues, which will in turn can repel workers and their families, adding to the downward spiral.
It gives Sunlight no pleasure in once again saying: with all due respect, Tom Moran, people and wealth are leaving New Jersey, and now even the overall population is declining. Sadly, it is NOT a “fantasy.”