(The Center Square) — Virginia was the eighth-most popular state to move to in the U.S. – and the sixth-most popular to leave – in 2022.
The commonwealth was not alone in this trend. Almost all of the top 10 states that gained the most new residents last year are among the most populous, while eight of those lost the most residents.
Virginia is the twelfth-most populous state in the nation with approximately 8.68 million people, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from last year.
It gained 266,970 newcomers but lost 282,050, resulting in a net migration loss of about 15,000 people in 2022 – up significantly from 2021’s shortfall of about 3,200. While Florida, Georgia and North Carolina enjoyed net gains, Virginia was the only Southern state that saw the most new residents suffer a net loss.
Florida and North Carolina were far and away the most popular destination states for those leaving the commonwealth, luring more than 65,000 Virginians between the two of them. Texas was next, attracting nearly 21,000 Virginians in 2022.
Virginia drew the most new residents from neighboring Maryland, Florida and California (though many more left Virginia for Florida).
Gov. Glenn Youngkin is known for religiously tracking net state migration patterns and asserts that the cost of living drives people elsewhere. Virginia’s cost of living is the 16th-highest in the nation, according to a study done by Forbes Advisor.
In the 2022-24 biennial budget, Youngkin passed a total of $5 billion in tax cuts, $1 billion of which came in the form of one-time tax rebates that the state is in the process of issuing. The governor wanted to make other changes to the state’s tax structure, including a 1% reduction of the corporate tax rate to 5%, but Republicans could not see most of those reforms through.
Despite this and a ranking of 26th on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, Virginia has placed within the top five states for business, according to an annual CNBC study multiple times in recent years.
Virginia’s unemployment rate also compares favorably with other states. At 2.5% in September, it’s the eighth-lowest in the country.
In the early 2010s, according to fact-checking organization Politifact, people leaving Virginia did so for a job.
“That switched to the rising cost of living at the end of the decade, according to economic and demographic studies,” according to Politifact.