Massachusetts is considering leaving the Eastern Time Zone

Six years ago, when Tom Emswiler moved from Washington, D.C., to Massachusetts, he saw something that shook him to his core: The sun went down at 4:11 p.m.

"I knew I was moving north, but I had no idea how far I was moving east, and so you can imagine my horror when in December the sun was setting" in the mid-afternoon, Emswiler told NBC News on Wednesday.

He began dreaming of a better future for the Bay State. An hour into the future, to be exact.

Emswiler, a 37-year-old public health advocate, is now one of 11 members of a state commission studying whether Massachusetts should leave the Eastern Time Zone and join the Atlantic Time Zone. In a region where winter darkness comes early, an extra hour of sunlight could be a boon for the economy and a godsend for public health, according to supporters of the shift.

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10 states where residents are fleeing

10. Pennsylvania

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 6,868

Percent of moves that were outbound: 56%

Via Forbes

9. Utah

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 2,094

Percent of moves that were outbound: 56%

Via Forbes

8. Ohio

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 7,049

Percent of moves that were outbound: 57%

Via Forbes

7. West Virginia

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 547

Percent of moves that were outbound: 57%

Via Forbes

6. Kentucky

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 2,919

Percent of moves that were outbound: 58%

Via Forbes

5. Kansas

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 2,329

Percent of moves that were outbound: 60%

Via Forbes

4. Connecticut

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 3,076

Percent of moves that were outbound: 60%

Via Forbes

3. New York

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 8,846

Percent of moves that were outbound: 63%

Via Forbes

2. Illinois

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 8,782

Percent of moves that were outbound: 63%

Via Forbes

1. New Jersey

Total moves to and from state in 2016: 5,489

Percent of moves that were outbound: 63%

Via Forbes

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The state "could make a data-driven case for moving to the Atlantic Time Zone year-round," the commission said in a draft report released in September. A second draft will be put up for a final vote on Nov. 1, and the issue could then go to lawmakers, according to a spokesman for Eileen Donoghue, a Democratic state senator who chairs the panel.

The upshot: If the state joins Puerto Rico and eastern Canadian provinces in the Atlantic Time Zone, it would effectively run on an all-year daylight-saving time. In its draft report, the commission touted potential benefits of the change, from boosted consumer spending to lower rates of certain types of crime.

But there is some fine print. The report said Massachusetts should not act alone, or else it could disrupt "commerce, trade, interstate transportation and broadcasting" across the region. A majority of other states in New England would have to jump on the time-zone train, too.

The report also said starting times for schools would have to be pushed back, partly so students do not have to commute in the dark or start class when they are "not fully awake."

But for the commission members — including Emswiler, who has been leading the charge on the issue for the last three years, beginning with a 2014 op-ed in The Boston Globe — the "positive benefits" outweigh the possible costs.

"There has to be a better way," Emswiler said.

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10 states with the most millionaires
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10 states with the most millionaires
High angle view of Venice beach during sunset. Tourists are walking on footpath by ocean. Shot of beautiful nature and people is taken from above.

9. Delaware

  • Population: 952,100
  • Number of households: 361,528
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.06 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $769,109
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $48,000

Delaware doesn't even rank among the 35 poorest states in the country, but it's the poorest on this list according to median income. The top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent are separated by a difference of just 16 times in average annual earnings, which is a relatively low rate of economic disparity.

The agriculture, fishing, mining and manufacturing industries continue to dominate the state. Because of its business-friendly atmosphere, more than half of all the publicly traded companies in the U.S. are incorporated in Delaware.

8. Virginia

  • Population: 8.41 million
  • Number of households: 3.22 million
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $988,000
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $56,000

Virginia, where eight American presidents were born, has a relatively low level of income inequality, with the top 1 percent earning 18 times more than the bottom 99 percent. Although the commonwealth suffered a significant economic downturn in recent years, several key indicators suggest that things in Virginia are on the upswing.

7. New Hampshire

  • Population: 1.33 million
  • Number of households: 530,424
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $1 million
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $57,000

New Hampshire residents enjoy the lowest poverty rate of any state in the entire country, and it also boasts the sixth-best nationwide employment rate over the last five years. The average income earned by the bottom 99 percent is 18 times lower than that earned by the top 1 percent.

6. Massachusetts

  • Population: 6.82 million
  • Number of households: 2.66 million
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $1.7 million
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $56,000

A wide income disparity exists between the elite and everybody else in Massachusetts, where the average member of the top 1 percent earns 30 times more than the average member of the bottom 99 percent. Although Massachusetts disappointed many with a shrinking economy and stalled wages in the first quarter of 2017, it quickly came roaring back in the second quarter with a burst of economic growth.

5. Alaska

  • Population: 741,900
  • Number of households: 271,691
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $833,000
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $63,000

Although Alaska has a high concentration of millionaires, the state experiences the lowest level of income inequality on this list. The wealthiest residents aren't particularly wealthy, and the rest of the people in the state do comparatively well. The average income for the top 1 percent is just 13 times greater than the average income earned by the rest of the population. The economy of Alaska can't be compared to that of any other state in the U.S., however, as more than four out of five revenue dollars come by way of the energy industry.

4. Hawaii

  • Population: 1.43 million
  • Number of households: 483,329
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $690,000
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $51,000

Hawaii's top 1 percenters make just 14 times more than the bottom 99 percent. Like Alaska, Hawaii has a unique economy, dominated by tourism and the military. Hawaiians face a higher cost of living than residents of any other state, as well as the highest housing prices in the U.S. The median home cost is $646,500, which is more than $135,000 higher than the next costliest state.

3. New Jersey

  • Population: 8.94 million
  • Number of households: 3.29 million
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $1.5 million
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $57,000

In the Garden State, there is a huge gap between the wealthiest residents and everyone else. The average top 1 percent earns 25 times more than the average member of the bottom 99 percent. New Jersey has the third-highest median household income rate in America — but the people who live there had better do well. The cost of living in New Jersey is among the country's most expensive, and much of the state consists of bedroom communities for people who work in New York or Philadelphia.

2. Connecticut

  • Population: 3.58 million
  • Number of households: 1.38 million
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $2.4 million
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $56,000

Although America's biggest millionaire metropolitan area is by far New York City, the Empire State doesn't even make this list — but its neighbor does. Connecticut is home to a higher per-capita rate of millionaire households than all but one other state.

Connecticut also suffers from dramatic income inequality — the state's elite are by far the richest 1 percent in America. The average earner among the lower 99 percent, however, makes 43 times less. The state is also suffering a major fiscal crisis that is impacting its budget, pension fund and tax revenue — and the capital city of Hartford is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

1. Maryland

  • Population: 6.02 million residents
  • Number of households: 2.66 million
  • Percentage of millionaire households: 0.07 percent
  • Average income for top 1 percent: $1 million
  • Average income for bottom 99 percent: $60,000

Leading the list of top 10 richest states according to millionaire concentration is Maryland, the most millionaire-dense state in the country. Home to one of the most educated workforces in the U.S., Maryland enjoys the second-lowest poverty rate in America.

On the border of the nation's capital, the small but influential state boasts the highest median income in America and is still among just 11 states that hold the coveted AAA bond rating.

Maryland has the most millionaires, but what is the richest state in the U.S. in terms of median household income? You guessed it. That's also Maryland.

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