The Census Bureau came out with its decennial census count, and it looks like NJ did much better than expected. Contrary to fears that NJ might lose another congressional seat, NJ kept its 12 House seats (down from 15 in 1970). All in all, NJ population grew 5.7% to 9.3 million. This is good news for NJ, although it does lag the national average growth of 7.4%.
The census count has led some commentators to discount other reports, such as the United Van Lines report, that have shown NJ as the state with the highest proportion of movers leaving for other states. But it’s not just UVL, the NJ Business and Industry Association has also documented the outmigration of people, wealth and millennials from NJ to other states.
And that is the main point: perhaps NJ has benefited from the exodus from New York City during COVID, but it remains to be seen what made up NJ’s population gain and how many came from other states rather than from other countries. Immigrants are essential to NJ’s economy but they tend to be less wealthy than NJ residents leaving for other states, so future census numbers still might indicate that wealth is leaving NJ. Even worse is the outmigration of millennials to other states: a Rutgers conference found that 200,000 NJ college grads left from 2009-2019. It would not be a healthy sign if NJ lost 200,000 college grads even if they were replaced by immigrants. That’s NJ’s future leaving for other states.
So it’s good news that NJ’s population grew and that NJ kept its House seats, but that does not mean that the battle is won and NJ does not have to worry about its high taxes, its worst-in-the-nation business climate, and outmigration of people, businesses, wealth and millennials to other states.