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A new study has found that New Jersey lost more residents than any other state in 2023, something one expert pins on the state’s liberal policies.
“High taxes were the primary driver behind New Jersey’s net outmigration,” EJ Antoni, a research fellow and public finance economist at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital.
Antoni’s comments come after a study by United Van Lines found that New Jersey once again took the top spot as the most moved-from state in 2023, the sixth consecutive year the state reached the grim milestone. According to the study, 65% of total moves happening in New Jersey in 2023 were out of the state, a number that bested second place Illinois by nearly four percentage points.
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The beach is filled with visitors during Labor Day Weekend on Sept. 3, 2022, in Wildwood, New Jersey. ( Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Rounding out the top five were North Dakota, New York, and Michigan, though Antoni believes it is no surprise that New Jersey took the top spot.
“That shouldn’t be surprising because people are fairly sensitive to tax rates when it comes to determining where to live and work,” Antoni said. “This is becoming increasingly true in an age when more people do not need to be present in a central workplace, like an office building, but can work remotely instead.”
“With that in mind, we would expect to see a state like New Jersey hemorrhaging people.”
Antoni pointed out that New Jersey has the sixth-highest state and local tax burden as a share of income, as well as the third-highest tax collection per capita. Other factors include some of the nation’s highest property taxes and the state’s regulatory environment, realities that push up the cost of living for people who live in the state.
“The Garden State also has the worst business tax climate,” Antoni argued.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who in 2020 switched political parties over disagreements with Democrats, pinned much of the blame for the state’s issues on Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.
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“Under Governor Murphy’s administration, New Jersey, despite its beautiful shorelines, pinelands, mountains, and farmlands, is witnessing a mass exodus,” Van Drew told Fox News Digital. “The governor’s decision to declare New Jersey as a sanctuary state, prioritizing illegal immigrants over hardworking New Jerseyans, is deeply concerning.”
Van Drew pointed to the governor’s environmental policies for alienating many New Jersey residents, while also taking aim at the state’s Democratic legislature for voting to give themselves a salary increase while resident of the state “face constant toll increases and some of the highest taxes in the nation.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to members of the media after meeting with President Biden during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“This is a classic example of the detrimental impact of liberal Democrat leadership on our cities and states that prevent American families from getting ahead and it’s no wonder that we are decreasing in population over it,” Van Drew said.
Gov. Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.
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On the opposite end of the spectrum, the study found that states in the Southeast region of the U.S. gained traction as some of the most moved to states. Specifically, South Carolina (63%), North Carolina (60%), Alabama (60%), Arkansas (60%) and West Virginia (58%) moved up the list for inbound move rankings in 2023, though they all fell short of Vermont, which came in as the number one moved to state last year.
Much of New Jersey’s struggles can be pinned on their tax policies, Antoni argued, noting that even states with high tax burdens in some areas make up for it with lower burden in others.
“Some states, like Tennessee, have very high sales taxes but no income tax, low property taxes, very few other taxes, and an overall low tax burden. Tennessee has the second-highest sales taxes in the country but the lowest state and local tax collections per capita – less than half the level in New Jersey,” Antoni said. “Conversely, there really aren’t any major types of taxes in New Jersey that are low; it has the eighth-highest state sales tax rate, less than half a percentage point below Tennessee.”
Bergen County, New Jersey, is home to the George Washington Bridge, which carries around 300,000 vehicles daily. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
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Antoni even pointed to the state’s inheritance tax, noting the tax man’s reach extends beyond the grave in the Garden State.
“New Jersey is even one of only six states with an inheritance tax because the residents apparently didn’t pay enough taxes during their lifetimes,” Antoni said. “It’s even an expensive place to die.”