Outmigration is Costly

The Dakotas and other Great Plains states are a leading indicator of things to come for larger sections of the rural U.S. Without clear and significant policy changes this trend will only intensify and spread.

FARGO (AP) – North Dakota lost nearly $1 billion in net taxable income from 1993 to 2005 due to outmigration, a State Data Center report says.

The figures show people moving to North Dakota during the 13-year span brought with them $5.5 billion in net taxable income, about $1 billion less than the what people leaving the state took with them.

The number of people leaving the state between 1993 and 2005 totaled 434,091, based on the number of exemptions claimed on income tax returns, said Karen Olson, an information specialist at the Data Center. The number of people who moved to the state during that period totaled 389,725, based on the tax exemptions, she said.

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Grand Forks had a net cash outflow of $239 million, the largest loss among cities. Olson said much of the drop is attributed to the 1997 Red River Flood and cutbacks at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Cass County, the state’s largest population center, gained 5,255 tax filers but lost nearly $60 million in net taxable income, Olson said.

“Those leaving Cass County had higher incomes than those coming in,” she said.

Of North Dakota’s 53 counties, only Burleigh and Bottineau counties had an increase in net taxable income, Olson said.

Burleigh County had 23,703 new tax filers during the period, while 22,597 moved out. The county had an increase of $18.9 million in net taxable income, Olson said.

Bottineau County had a net taxable income gain of $6.5 million since 1993 but lost 520 tax filers, to 1,687, Olson said.

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