SPECIAL NOTE: The video above is from our November 2022 coverage of why Texans love Texas so much.
LUBBOCK, Texas — New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas showed Texas is the stickiest state with 82% of native-born Texans sticking around as of 2021. The Fed published both a news release and a website article Tuesday with an analysis of the most and least sticky states.
The next best behind Texas was North Carolina with 75.5%. Georgia, California and Utah followed.
“At the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming is the least-sticky state, with only 45.2% of natives remaining there,” the Fed said in its article. “North Dakota and Alaska were the only other states with less than half their native population staying there…”
“Since the pandemic, shifts in population—from states like California and New York to destinations such as Texas and Florida—have been well documented,” the Fed said. However, this time the research focused on those who were native-born to a state.
It’s Good to Be Sticky
“Sticky states, where the weather is often warmer, tend to offer better economic conditions than nonsticky states,” the Fed said. “These conditions can be in the form of better and more varied job opportunities or less burdensome tax policies.”
Does it matter if a state is sticky? The Fed said yes.
“The share of people born in a state and who stay there can provide an important measure of its attractiveness to workers,” the Fed published.
The stickiness of native residents is also key to a stable or growing workforce, the Fed said, which is vital to economic growth.
“The five stickiest states each recorded above-average job growth between 2010 and 2019, meaning there was less pressure for residents to leave to find work,” the Fed wrote.
“The Lone Star State has led the nation in population growth over the last 17 years,” the governor’s office said on the Texas Economic Development website, “and continues to be a top state for job creation.”
Not Just Money, But Culture
Texas Tech Associate Professor of Sociology and the author of the book Migration-Trust Networks Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal said it’s more than just economics.
“Historically, Texans are proud of their history,” Flores-Yeffal said. “They have created a particular culture in which pride, legacy, religiosity and being conservative play a major role in their daily lives.”
“Texans are usually proud of being Texans,” Flores-Yeffal further explained. “One could say that for them being from Texas carries more pride to them and to their families than being American.”
She said in Texas there is an expectation that kids will grow up to attend the same university as their parents, and have the same love of faith, football and other traditions – like wearing boots and saying words like y’all.
She also said social networks play a role. If friends and family are establishing networks in other states, then those states become more attractive. But if family and friends stay put in Texas, then staying put becomes more attractive.
The history and tradition of Texas, Flores-Yeffal said, acts like a magnet among native-born Texans so they never even consider leaving the state.
The Texas Way of Life
After the Fed released its research, the KLBK Facebook page in Lubbock asked, “If money were no problem, which state would be your home?”
Many said Texas. Among those who cited their reasons, state pride seemed to be bigger than any other motivation.
“Texas-born,” one woman declared. “Want to live here all my life.”
Colorado was the second most frequent answer.
“We tried Colorado for 6 years, but it never felt like home, so we moved back to Texas,” a Facebook user named Tommy wrote. “Texas is home!”
Along the lines of state pride, the state’s website for economic development said, “‘Made in Texas’ is a powerful global brand.”
“Buc-ee’s, Whataburger and H-E-B are just a few places that hold a special place in many Texans’ hearts,” kxan.com documented in 2022. Blue Bell and Schlotzky’s also ranked high for Texas loyalty.
“It’s no surprise to me that Texans are more likely to stick around than any other state’s residents,” said John Osborne, president and CEO of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance. “Here in Lubbock, we have what they want.”
Osborne cited the cost of living, below-average commute times, housing prices, job opportunities and a “thriving culture” as reasons Texans might want to stay in West Texas.
“Our way of life is enviable in West Texas. I can’t think of a better place to call home, start a family or make a living than in Lubbock, Texas.”
People Come, People Go
People move to Texas and stay in Texas. But people also leave.
“The 2019 U.S. census revealed that an estimated 435,000 – 471,000 Texans left the State, citing reasons being quality of life, peace of mind, and a more convenient lifestyle,” said texasview.org – a website dedicated to the best things in Texas. “Migrating Texans believed that the advantages of living in Texas were dwindling and that other U.S. states provided more appealing options.”
The Fed study addressed that issue as well.
“In addition to being the stickiest state, Texas had the lowest outmigration rate in 2021, followed by Maine and Michigan,” the Fed said.
The outmigration numbers from the Fed tracked everyone moving out of state including both native-born and non-native.
Did COVID-19 make a difference? Yes, but not much.
“We find no state’s stickiness score changed by more than 3 percentage points between 2017 and 2021,” the Fed said. “Even as more people moved during the pandemic, states overall remained just as sticky as they were before.”