Should Wyoming Pay People to Move Here?
I saw this story from the New York Times recently about Topeka, Kansas offering money to people if they move there. The goal of the plan is to attract younger people, ideally young families or those looking to start one, to settle in the area to combat the local aging population. That's a similar problem that Wyoming is facing, and it brings up the question, should Wyoming pay people to move here?
Here's how it works in the Land of Oz. Well, not Australia. Kansas. Anyways, officials and business leaders in Topeka say they'll pool resources and offer up to $15,000 to people willing to live and work there. They hope to attract professionals to work in "sectors like animal health science and financial services."
"The program would require people to live in the county and work for employers that, in turn, would pay up to $15,000 in moving costs, as a bonus or to help with buying a home. Renters would get $10,000."
Officials in Topeka are optimistic about the future, telling the New York Times that their downtown that has attracted a brewery and new restaurants.
This isn't a new idea, several states and cities offer similar incentives to add young people to shrinking and aging populations.
In Wyoming, our population is aging quickly, and the overall population is not keeping up. Wyoming's population peaked at 586,000 in 2015. As the years tick by, retirements and deaths could leave many positions vacant, or staffed by unqualified occupants.
So, should Wyoming undertake a similar 'We'll Pay You to Move Here' program? Encouraging young families, especially young educated professionals, to relocate to Wyoming could offset some of the brain-drain that is threating Wyoming.
Some may say, we don't want outsiders to move to our state, it is the way it is and we like it. But, an aging population will require more infrastructure, especially medical and transportation. The need for nurses, doctors, and support professionals will only increase.
Rural states like Wyoming could be facing a future of having to travel long distances to receive basic services and taking even more tax dollars out of state. Or doing without, which will further lower our quality of life in the state.