In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a new kind of “refugee” has emerged: the American taxpayer.

No longer able to afford the liberal tax-and-spend policies of the past, Americans increasingly find themselves fleeing their high-tax home states in search of greener pastures. One state hit unusually hard by this phenomenon-New York.

Between 2000 and 2008, over 1.5 million people, or 8 percent of the population at the start of the decade, left New York for other states in the U.S., according to a new report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. At its absolute worst, the state lost nearly 250,000 people in 2005.

This mass out-migration is more than just a drain on New York’s population though, it’s also having a frightening effect on the state’s tax base.

According to the report, “in 2006-07 alone, the migration flow out of New York drained $4.3 billion in taxpayer income from the state.” In other words, states aren’t just losing people-they’re also losing money too.

New York’s example should serve as a stark reminder that taxes matter. Today’s population is more mobile than ever, and if high-tax states don’t rethink their approach soon, they could very well end up broke and population-less.

– James Quintero