The Erie Canal has always been my favorite. Initiated by a Clinton who wanted to be President (DeWitt Clinton, governor of NYS), the canal was completed in 1825. Because it connected Albany, NY to Buffalo, NY, people and goods in New York City could move much more cheaply and quickly to the Midwest. They just had to travel up the Hudson River, across the canal, and they wound up at the Great Lakes, a gateway to the entire Midwestern US.
The Erie Canal was an amazingly productive artery. Completing an all water route from the Port of New York City to the Great Lakes, it linked eastern manufacturers and western suppliers of raw materials. With others hoping to copy the Erie’s success, soon a network of canals were built that further diminished transport costs and tied us all together.
And now, showing that we remain so very interconnected, the following amazing graphic displays movement between different states. The concept is awesome. On its surface, you just see where people migrate when they leave their home state. Dig deeper, though, and tax policy, economic growth or stagnation, demographics, employment, corporate relocation, minimum wage policy all start to surface as you wonder why people move.
The graphic has states listed around the perimeter that are connected by arcs to display state-to-state population migration. When we go to the interactive format at Chris Walker’s website, you will see the information conveyed by the colors and width of the arcs.
I started with my home state, New Jersey. We were #2 for losing people. Only Alaska lost a greater proportion of its population. By contrast, North Dakota and Delaware had the largest proportional population gain.
Among the 219,202 people who left New Jersey, 27,606 went to Florida. Others left for North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, New York and Virginia. The most popular migration destinations, Texas and Florida each had more than 500,000 people arrive according to the 2012 American Community Survey.
Does it make a difference that Florida has no income nor sales tax? Having just voted to raise our minimum wage, how will New Jersey impact businesses and labor? Why are more people leaving California than arriving?
The answers could return us to the Erie Canal and the subsequent impact of connectivity on human capital, on businesses and on government.
Sources and resources: H/T to a Washington Post article for alerting me to the Vizynary website where the graphic is interactive. Vizynary got its data and I got my NJ migration visual from the 2012 American Community Survey. And finally, my Erie Canal information is from my own book, Econ 101 1/2. A “sister” to this post is here with great tax maps.