10 States Whose Residents Are Leaving

We all have our own personal reasons for choosing to live where we live, whether it be for our jobs, our families, a fantastic medical community, or sports team that will take up most of our weekends. That being said, some states can’t say the same thing. Some states don’t provide what their residents really need. While some choose to stick it out and stay because it’s their home, others prefer the other option: leave. They pack up their bags and get out before things get too bad. This can hurt states more than most people know. It makes it more difficult for jobs to be filled by skilled people and also means fewer taxes, which will affect every part of the state.

Every year, United Van Lines puts its prodigious network to statistical use by highlighting the migration patterns into and out of every state in the nation. They publish a list each year that covers each state with the lowest ratio of inbound traffic to outbound (aka people coming vs. people going). The following states are having a hard time getting their residents to stay for one reason or another. Is this a sign of decline for the state or are they working toward reinventing the state to improve the very issues that are making people leave?

Connecticut (62% Outbound)

Connecticut showed up more than once on our list of most expensive cities to raise a family, so it might not be too surprising that people are heading elsewhere. The United Van Lines study shows that 62% of their cross-state trips to Connecticut involved carrying people out of it, and a Bloomberg analysis of Census data reached a similar conclusion. While local officials say that school enrollment is up, the state has definitely seen a net decrease in population.

According to current trends, Connecticut's population has dropped steadily for the last several years. Unlike some states on this list, a comeback seems unlikely for the Constitution State. 

Missouri (51% Outbound)

in 2018, 51% of Missouri's residents packed their bags, with 71% reporting their job situation as their reason for leaving the state.

Despite the recent loss, Missouri is predicted to have a population of 6.8 million people by 2030, which would be a 21% increase from 2000.

Utah (51.7% Outbound)

You might be confused to see Utah on this list if you keep up with the fastest-growing states in the country. While it’s true that Utah’s overall population has been booming (12% since 2010), this metric focuses on domestic migration. The bulk of Utah’s population grow can be attributed to births. It accounts for around 66% of the state’s growth. Meanwhile, the majority of moves are to out-of-state locations.

While a high birth rate helps contribute to population growth in Utah, interestingly enough, the state also has the lowest death rate in the nation. These factors have managed to keep Utah growing, despite the people leaving the state each year. 

Nebraska (52.6% Outbound)

 About 71% of those leaving Nebraska cite their job as their reason for leaving. And it's typically young people leaving after they get their bachelor's degree.

According to a 2018 report from the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, the "out-migration of Nebraskans with at least a bachelor's degree continues to be a serious issue."

Maryland (53.1% Outbound)

 A slight majority of Maryland’s cross-border moves were to out-of-state locations instead of to internal ones. Community pride in Baltimore, the state’s largest city, has taken a hit recently, so it may be understanding for residents to want to explore other options elsewhere.

However, not all folks are leaving Maryland for the same reason. In 2018, the top three reasons for moving out of state were job changes (50%), retirement (22%), and unspecified family reasons (20%). 

Kentucky (53.5% Outbound)

 Kentucky’s population centers (think Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green) are booming. But the state’s more rural counties are seeing their populations decline. Most of these are located along its borders with Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee. Perhaps that’s why the majority of cross-border moves are headed out of the state.

While job changes were the #1 reason for moving away from Kentucky, nearly a quarter of all respondents said that family issues played a part in their decision to leave. 

Maine (50.6% Outbound)

 In the years since the 2010 census, Maine’s population has barely budged. It seems that after a round of paper mill closures, older workers retired and moved south to warmer weather, leading to nearly 50.6% of cross-border moves being outbound.

Luckily for the state, recent years have shown a slight decrease in the number of citizens leaving. In 2018, the number of people moving out and moving in were nearly equal—so not great, but better than things have been, at least. 

Wisconsin (54% Outbound)


Like many other states across the country, Wisconsin is seeing its population centers grow while its rural areas are losing residents. So while many residents are moving internally to large cities, when looking just at cross-border moves, Wisconsin comes out on the negative side.

To combat this wave of leaving residents, Wisconsin organizations have recently begun introducing efforts to retain citizens and attract new ones. These initiatives include things like marketing campaigns highlighting the benefits of the state. 

Louisiana (54.3% Outbound)

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Louisiana has been gaining new residents at a much slower pace than other states. 

From the 54.3% of those who moved out of the state in 2018, 71% cited their job (or lack thereof) as the reason.

Montana (55% Outbound)

Montana nabs the #9 spot for the top outbound states of 2018, with 55% of its residents choosing to move away. About 50% of the residents leaving Montana are 65+, so retirement is a huge factor here. The other major reason for leaving that people cited, at 40%, is family.

Coincidentally, 29% of those moving to Montana are moving for a new job. So the concensus here is that Montana is a land of opportunity for those just starting out in their career, but when it comes time to retire, they move back to wherever their family resides.


Older Post