N.J. business group sounds alarm on costs of people moving from state

 Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, says 2 million people moved from the Garden State in the space of 10 years. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, says 2 million people moved from the Garden State in the space of 10 years. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Two million residents moved out of the Garden State over a decade, with retirees and millennials leading the exodus, according to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Association president Michele Siekerka said Thursday that many older residents move to other states to lower their tax burden.

“State and inheritance taxes are playing a role in decision making in where seniors are choosing to go,” she said. “Another factor is tax on pensions.”

But Jon Whiten with New Jersey Policy Perspective doesn’t agree that taxes are the major reason people leave.

“It’s the cost of housing and other costs of living for middle-class residents that make people leave the state,” he said.

Another factor in the migration are the many young people who go to college in other states, then don’t return to New Jersey because of the high cost of living, said Joel Naroff, the association’s  economic adviser.

“These are the skilled workers that attract businesses to the state,” he said. “So we need to keep our millennials here because there is a relationship between the size of the skilled millennial groupings and the decisions on the part of businesses to locate in the state.”

New Jersey is losing billions in economic activity because of the moves, according to the association, which advised reforming the state’s tax structure to encourage more people to stay.

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