About 9,000 Businesses Left California During Good Economic Times

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to Joseph Vranich’s report on businesses leaving California. I should know: I’m one of the 9,000 businesses that did so.

Mr. Vranich analyzed business relocations from 2008-2014. He identified 1,510 “disinvestment events”–companies leaving the Bronze Golden State for brighter horizons. Mr. Vranich notes that for every one company that publicly leaves, at least five others have left. Mr. Vranich also excluded all but primary employers,

…[W]hose customers are nationwide or worldwide (such employers bring wealth into a community.) All “secondary employers” (which exchange wealth already in a community) such as retail stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, beauty salons, nurseries – an inexhaustible list of enterprises – are excluded.

While some of these business closings and relocations are local businesses that just service locally, today with the Internet a business in Nevada and elsewhere can service clients anywhere in the world. Yes, you can only go to a restaurant locally or get your hair done where you are, but many other service businesses are no longer geographically constrained. This, too, likely causes an understatement of the impact of business relocations.

And things aren’t likely to get better for California:

Finally, California is considering imposing a broad set of new taxes, tax extensions and fees on businesses in 2016 and 2017 – a “tsunami” that may trigger the worst demands on private-sector finances ever organized by the state’s politicians. It is highly likely that one result will be an increasing number of disinvestments in California in favor of greener domestic or international pastures.

A factor that Mr. Vranich didn’t consider is what will happen during the next economic downturn? California today relies largely on capital gains taxes from very wealthy individuals (and individuals receiving stock options) for state revenues. The next time there’s an economic downturn, that source of income will decline, almost certainly very substantially. Given the mindset in Sacramento, that’s likely to result in even higher taxes and regulations rather than starting to actually make California a place that businesses want to locate in.

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