Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Migration Patterns: Where People Go When They Leave Oklahoma

Oklahoma competes with other states for jobs and people, and some argue that states without an income tax are more attractive to business.

In Oklahoma, lawmakers are in a heated debate over reducing and ultimately phasing out the personal income tax.

This isn’t an exact science, but migration and economics are linked. People and money tend to move together, and population growth is often a marker for economic expansion.

The debate is really about no-income tax Texas. Our southern neighbor is an economic magnet that pulls in new businesses and steals Oklahoma’s, income tax elimination proponents argue.

Texas is growing, but detractors say population can be strategically used to mislead people about a state’s economic prosperity.

Earlier this week we looked at migration into Oklahoma from other states. Texas was No. 1 on that list.

We’ve used the same Internal Revenue Service data, which tracks migration through address changes on tax returns, and build an interactive map of migration out of Oklahoma.

Check out the map below. Poke around (drag that mouse westward for Alaska and Hawaii!), and click on a state to see household, individual and total migration from 2009-2010, the most recent data available.

Source: Internal Revenue Service | Download Data


Simple geography plays a big role here, and like it was with incoming migration, lots of people leave Oklahoma for neighboring states like Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. New Mexico is an interesting exception, both coming and leaving.

Migration to and from Oklahoma

Rank INTO Oklahoma OUT of Oklahoma
1. Texas Texas
2. California Arkansas
3. Arkansas Kansas
4. Kansas California
5. Missouri Missouri
6. Florida Florida
7. Colorado Colorado
8. Georgia Arizona
9. Arizona Georgia
10. Illinois North Carolina

Texas is No. 1 in migration to and from Oklahoma, the IRS data show. And the numbers of people coming to and from Oklahoma from the Lone Star State is almost the same. According to the data, slightly more people migrated to Oklahoma from Texas in 2009-2010.

To Oklahoma from Texas

Households: 9,367
Individuals: 19,641
Total: 29,008

From Oklahoma to Texas

Households: 9,144
Individuals: 18,447
Total: 27,591

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