Where Wealth Is Running Away in Oregon:

nfib-logoBy Oregon NFIB

Where Wealth Is Running Away in Oregon:

1. Benton Co. (-$132.25 million)
2. Umatilla Co. (-$68 million)
3. Malheur Co. (-$67.75 million)
4. Harney Co. (-$11.73 million)
5. Morrow Co. (-$6.72 million)
6. Multnomah Co. (-$6.43 million)
7. Wheeler Co. (-$5.73 million)
8. Gilliam Co. (-$2.96 million)
9. Sherman Co. (-$2.07 million)
10. Union Co. (-$2.06 million)

Portlandia may call it the place “where young people go to retire,” but a recent report shows that Multnomah County is actually losing wealth by the millions. Nine other counties in Oregon are losing, too, despite the state’s $8.03 billion overall gain in annual adjusted gross income (AGI) over the past two decades.

Benton, Umatilla and Malheur lead the 10 counties in the red, with losses of $132.25 million, $68 million and $67.75 million, respectively. At the opposite end, Deschutes, Clackamas and Jackson gained the most wealth, reeling in more than $1 billion each.

The numbers come from “How Money Walks,” a map that uses U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data to show how wealth moved across state and county lines from 1992 to 2013. Money and people migrated overwhelmingly in favor of better small-business climates: The states with no income taxes attracted the most wealth, while those with higher income tax rates saw significant losses.

At 9.9 percent, Oregon has the third-highest personal income tax rate in the country. It appears optimistically green on the migration map, but more than 78 percent of its accumulated wealth came from California, the state with the highest personal income tax. And the money didn’t stop there: Oregon lost $2.27 billion to tax-free Washington, Nevada and Wyoming, and $255.44 million to low-tax Arizona.

“You look at a lot of these counties in Oregon, and you see that most of the people are coming from California,” says NFIB State Director Anthony Smith. They’re bad-policy migrants, he says. “What’s worrisome is that Oregon is moving in the same direction as California in terms of policy. How long until we end up like California, and where will the wealth go next?”

The 10 counties that lost wealth in Oregon don’t surprise Smith, except for the anomaly of Multnomah. Portland’s county lost $6.43 million over the same period that it attracted nearly 50,000 new residents.

“In Malheur, people are moving next door to go to Idaho, which has better tax rates,” Smith explains. “In Benton, the rising cost of living and housing has prompted people to move elsewhere. But Multnomah’s is a troubling statistic. The numbers show that we’re not seeing the same wealth production as we’re seeing in every other county.”

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