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MailTribune.com
  • Californians ... here they come

    National study of where people move confirms what we long have thought
  • For a long time, local residents have suspected that Californians are moving here in droves, attracted by the slower pace of life, the scenery and the community.
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      To view the migration map, go to www.mailtribune.com/migrationmap.
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      To view the migration map, go to www.mailtribune.com/migrationmap.
  • For a long time, local residents have suspected that Californians are moving here in droves, attracted by the slower pace of life, the scenery and the community.
    Mark VonHolle is among them. He relocated here with his family seven years ago from Union City in the Bay Area.
    After a visit here to see his aunt, VonHolle and his wife, Yvonne, decided the hills around Jacksonville were the perfect place to raise their two girls, Hannah and Elisabeth, even though he had to take a 40 percent pay cut.
    "It's just an absolutely hand-and-glove fit," he said. "Every day is kind of a pinch-me experience."
    A study compiled by Forbes.com confirms what many have suspected for a long time: The Bay Area and Southern California are the two primary regions exporting residents like VonHolle to Jackson County.
    Northern Oregon and Washington state are the most popular destinations for Jackson County residents who are moving away.
    Forbes.com has created an interactive map based on IRS data from 2008 that shows the migratory patterns of local residents. Data for every county in the country is available.
    "It's been fun to really visualize this and see trends come alive, while matching migration patterns to what people have long suspected," said Jon Bruner, editor at Forbes.com.
    Based on the analysis, Forbes concluded that Americans are generally moving to areas with warm climates and low taxes.
    Forbes' analysis of tax data shows that Oregon is among eight states with high tax brackets, which makes it somewhat less attractive than other areas of the country in attracting the wealthy.
    While Southern California has greater numbers moving to the county, the wealthiest people migrating here are from the Bay Area.
    The 121 residents who left Santa Clara County for Jackson County in 2008 had an average annual per capita income of $69,600. Los Angeles County saw 258 people migrate to Jackson County with an average per capita income of $35,900.
    There is a lot of intrastate migration, with Klamath, Coos, Curry and Douglas among the counties funneling people into or out of Jackson County.
    The interactive map data does not show migration of fewer than 10 people to one county. As a result, the map doesn't show any local residents moving to or from the East Coast.
    The data is based on income tax returns, which may not reflect everyone moving in and out of an area. This could leave out the very poor, retired residents and others who don't file returns.
    Based on the returns filed in 2008, Jackson County had a net population gain of 901, according to Bruner.
    Forbes.com uses a different method of calculating income than the Oregon Bureau of Economic Analysis. The Forbes data is based on adjusted gross income figures provided by the IRS, which often reflect substantial deductions.
    Guy Tauer, state regional economist, said the data from Forbes supports the migration patterns that he has seen from other data, including from driver's licenses.
    He said population growth figures from Portland State University showed Jackson County's population grew from 205,305 in July 2008 to 207,010 in July 2009, a 1,705 person increase. The Forbes data only shows address changes but doesn't reflect births and deaths in the county.
    "Generally, most of the population growth is from migration, not babies," Tauer said.
    Jackson County income levels continue to lag behind Oregon's, and Oregon's continues to lag behind the U.S. as a whole, Tauer said.
    Ron Fox of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. said Forbes doesn't seem to provide enough demographic data to give a strong indication about the effects of migration on the Jackson County economy.
    "I do know that Oregon trails the national average in income significantly," he said.
    Fox said Forbes.com's reference to Oregon as having a high tax rate probably comes mostly from looking at income taxes. Compared to other Western states, except for Nevada, Oregon compares favorably in its overall tax load, he said.
    VonHolle said he's not particularly worried that the influx of residents from California will detract from the lifestyle in Jackson County.
    "You will not create a California here because 50 percent of the county is owned by the federal government," he said. In addition, strict zoning laws in Oregon will help prevent the runaway growth he saw in California.
    In his seven years in Jackson County, VonHolle became vice president of S&B James Construction Management. He has also been named president of the SOREDI board and belongs to several local organizations.
    He said he left a high-paying job in Redwood City, where he was senior project manager for a commercial contractor.
    Even though he and others came from California, VonHolle said this area attracts a different kind of Californian.
    "Our values are different," he said. "Otherwise, we would still be down there."
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.
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