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The California migration

Before Wahlberg creates a Hollywood 2.0, however, he’ll need more talent to come to Nevada — although it may not be too hard to convince more stars to trek to the desert.

Census data says that more than 75,000 people left California in 2023, the second-largest population decline of all U.S. states. New York, another state that rich people are fleeing, came in first (where more than 100,000 people left).

Although the Los Angeles Times reports that people have been leaving California for a while, there’s now an increase in out-of-state migration by high-earners. State budgets projected a $68 billion deficit in the next fiscal year due to a 25% decrease in income tax collection in 2022-23.

And it’s likely the taxes that are driving out the state’s wealthiest residents. As of January, Californians earning more than a million dollars now pay a whopping 14.4% tax rate — the highest in the U.S., claims the the Tax Foundation.

Though Wahlberg didn’t explicitly mention taxes as his reason for leaving California, other wealthy people have said they’d prefer to go to states like Nevada, Texas or Florida because there are no state taxes there.

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California isn’t always friendly to businesses

California may have been the land of dreams for many at one point, but that’s not necessarily the case for business owners these days.

This is because of the strength of unions in the state. According to employment law firm PLBH Law, California doesn’t have right-to-work laws, which offers an employee the right to decline union membership without fear of losing their job. However, if you work at a company in California with a union, you might have to join it and pay union dues.

This was well-illustrated during the 2023 Hollywood writers’ strike, which lasted nearly five months, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This is difficult for many businesses who see huge spikes in their employee expenses with union-regulated workforces, and which demand certain amounts of pay and benefits.

Nevada, however, has a right-to-work law in place, according to its legislature, which means that businesses can operate without fear that unions will take over.

Wahlberg is already a businessman involved in many ventures, including co-ownership of the Wahlburgers fast food chain. He’s likely well-aware of right to work laws. Nevada is much more attractive for a Hollywood 2.0 because of this. His bottom line may be better if he leaves California and builds his own film studio without unions.

Wahlberg also says he’s lobbying the Nevada governor, Republican Joe Lombardo, to create more tax credits for film and TV productions. Georgia recently expanded its entertainment tax credits program and now plenty of TV productions are filmed on location there, including Stranger Things, The Walking Dead and the recently concluded, Ozark.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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