Rutgers Economists James Hughes and Joseph Seneca have reported that people are leaving New Jersey faster than ever before. Studying the Census and IRS data from 2002 through 2006, Hughes and Seneca determined that the gap between the number of people leaving the state and the number of people moving in has more than tripled.
New Jersey could actually see an overall decrease in population as early as 2008.
William Dressel, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, is concerned of the overall impact this can have on our cash-strapped state. Not only does fewer people translate into less taxes collected, a significant population drop could cost us a Congressional seat and reduce the population-based Federal Aid received.
But there are other losses to be considered as the population flees the high property-taxes, poor infrastructure, over-developed suburbs and decaying urban centers.
The people who are leaving are those who can. Those who have the ways and means to pack up and move...whether it is across the river or across the country. Certainly, our economy will miss their spending.
But these are also most likely to be people who are involved in making their communities better. They are the activists, board members, volunteers, patrons, etc. that breath life and vitality into our arts, education, and civic non-profits. These are the people who, to the best of their ability, give back to keep our towns and cities livable.
As they flee, our efforts to move forward, especially in places like Trenton, are impaired...if not hamstrung.
This last week marked a significant loss for the Greater Trenton Community as two very committed and involved people completed the transition of divesting from Trenton and setting up shop in the middle of the country.
For the last decade or so, if you looked at any one's list of "movers and shakers" in Trenton, you would have seen the names of Beth and Garry Feltus. Business people, civic leaders, former school board member, patrons of the arts, they were in many ways ideal citizens.
In time honored fashion, they have packed up and headed west in search of a better life. No doubt they will miss Trenton and the people they've shared so much with.
And to be sure, Trenton will miss them.
How many more Beth and Garry's will pull up stakes and leave this week? This month? This year?
How will the State of New Jersey fare when all that's left are those who aren't able to go anywhere else?