New legislation can welcome workers to Nebraska

New legislation can welcome workers to Nebraska

As sometimes happens when you’re reading stories online, you stumble across things you’d never seen from months ago. In this case, I ran into this article from Forbes—published in January of this year—which talks about a study by Atlas Van Lines that tracked migration patterns in the country in 2019.

The study found that in 2019, Idaho was the top state for inbound movement, and New York (probably not surprising to most Nebraskans) was the outbound movement leader.

Idaho was joined in the top 10 for inbound popularity by Washington, North Carolina, New Mexico, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Arizona, Alabama, the District of Columbia, and Texas.

Nebraska came in 8th in the outbound category, which was (in order from highest outbound rate to lowest: New York, West Virginia, South Dakota, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Delaware, Nebraska, Indiana, and Connecticut.

Both lists are diverse in terms of climate and population density, so one wonders what inspires movement in one direction or the other.

Tax climate is likely a part of it. The Tax Foundation regularly compares states and their tax climate, and eyeballing their maps suggests that some of the states on the “good” list have better than average tax climate, and some of the “bad” states on the list have worse than average tax climate, though there are exceptions.

But the availability of jobs and the potential to make a living has to be a significant consideration for people coming and going, as well. Hence, the Platte Institute’s focus on reducing barriers to employment via our occupational licensing efforts.

By most standards (except for a few occupations), Nebraska is neither one of the most regulated states nor among the least. We’re sort of in the middle of the pack. Those of us who grew up here know that there are intangible benefits to living in our state, but for those looking for a new place to settle and make a home, a state without the help of mountains, beaches, or balmy temperatures year-round needs to offer something else.

Low taxes and ease of job opportunities would not only incentivize people to come here, but it would give them the wherewithal to take vacations to those places with beaches and mountains!

In the coming legislative session, we will be encouraging the Legislature to expand on earlier efforts at job licensing reform. We will be supporting a “universal recognition” bill—a bill designed to encourage skilled workers from other states to come to our state to practice their occupation. Two states in the top 10 for in-bound moves (Idaho and Arizona) have already enacted universal recognition; none of the bottom 10 have yet taken that step.

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