Since the Onset of COVID, Blue States Are Losing Population at an Astonishing Rate

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The Census Bureau’s estimates of the population of the 50 states and the District of Columbia as of last July show that blue-state populations are on the move in astonishing numbers. And red-state populations are benefitting hugely from the exodus.


“Texas and Florida make up about 15% of the U.S. population but accounted for 70% of its population growth this past year,” reports the Wall Street Journal. And the movement away from progressive-run states continues, even after the lockdowns have ended.

The U.S. population grew by about 1.2 million between July 2021 and July 2022, with immigration accounting for a million of the total.

Washington Examiner:

Domestic out-migration — the number of U.S. residents leaving the state minus those entering — in 2020-22 was 3.3% of the 2020 population in New York state and 2.2% in Illinois and California. These are staggering numbers, far higher than any other state. The losses are undoubtedly concentrated in central cities, as suggested by the District of Columbia, where pre-COVID population was growing but in 2020-22 was down 3.8%.

Not coincidentally, these states have some of the nation’s highest state and local tax rates and high housing costs due to restrictive regulations. That has spurred out-migration for more than a decade. The post-COVID woes — lockdowns and masking mandates, the post-George Floyd upward zoom in violent crime, and the spread of homeless encampments — have sparked a larger exodus that seems unlikely to be fully reversed.

The Examiner’s Michael Barone points out some striking facts about migration from blue to red states. The five states that border the Pacific Ocean — once beckoning Middle America to their scenic beauty — have lost their allure. Americans are moving out of those states and moving into Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana, where taxes are a fraction of what they are in California, Washington, and Oregon.


The migration along these Interstate corridors is moving in the opposite directions of movements in the wartime and postwar decades from the 1940s to the 1970s. Then you saw substantial migrations of both black and white Southerners up to the great cities of the Northeast — Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York — and to Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland in the industrial Midwest.

Similarly, wartime industries and postwar growth led people from Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to the fabled promised land of California and the Pacific Northwest.

Those migrations were larger in absolute numbers and much larger in percentage terms than what we see today. Which makes the really large movements today — out of New York, Chicago, and coastal California, into Florida and Texas — stand out so vividly.

It’s not just lower taxes, of course. People are moving out of blue states due to “quality of life” issues — better schools, more opportunities for jobs, and more freedom. The difference between California and Florida is instructive.

“Florida has no income tax and an expansive private school choice program. It also doesn’t smother businesses with regulation. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t have to run ads in progressive states. The Sunshine State sells itself,” writes the WSJ Editorial Board.

The problem with all this migration is that blue-state residents are astonished when they move to a red-state and realize there are a lot fewer government goodies. The blue-state newcomers pine for the government amenities they used to get that are not to be found in many red states.


Colorado, once a fairly reliable red state, was destroyed by blue-state Democrats moving there in the 1980s and ’90s. Look at Arizona today, and you’re seeing a repeat of what happened in Colorado. Blue-state residents don’t change their spots when they move. They don’t convert to free market principles, and they certainly don’t adopt more culturally conservative views.

Will we be able to recognize Florida, Texas, and other Republican states as red states ten years from now?



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