In a turnabout from recent trends, downstate New York’s population decreased twice as fast as upstate’s last year, according to the latest Census Bureau annual estimates.

To see where they are going, check out our analysis of federal tax data.

During the 12-month period ending last July 1, the 50 counties of upstate New York lost another 8,719 residents, a decrease of 0.14 percent, while the downstate region (New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley) lost a combined total of 39,791 people, or 0.30 percent. Virtually all of that decline occurred in New York City, accounting for the bulk of the state’s net population decrease of 48,510 in 2017-18.

The latest downstate population estimate of 13,306,502 reflects an increase of 267,226 (2.0 percent) since the 2010 census, while the combined population upstate stood at 6,236,157, a decrease of 103,119 people (-1.6 percent) since 2010. Since the last decennial census in 2010, the total state population has grown by 164,107, or 0.8 percent.

As shown below, 43 of 50 upstate counties have lost population since the last decennial census; in all but one of the losing counties, the decline has exceeded 1 percent of the 2010 base population. Dutchess, Putnam and Suffolk remain the only downstate counties to have lost population since the census.




Highlights of 2018 Census Bureau Estimates for New York Counties

(See Tables 1 and 2 for more details)

  • The Census Bureau has made a large downward adjustment to its calculation of international immigration, which has long been concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area. As a result, the estimated net change in the downstate population since 2010 has been reduced by half since the 2016-17 estimates were released a year ago. This also had the effect of reducing estimated populations below previous counts for some upstate urban counties.
  • Since 2010, Ontario and Saratoga remain the only New York counties to have experienced positive domestic migration, meaning they attracted more new residents from the rest of the nation, including other New York counties, than they lost (see map below).
  • The New York City county-boroughs of Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, the Bronx and New York (Manhattan), in that order, have experienced the state’s largest overall population increases since 2010, driven mainly by large natural increases. Elsewhere downstate, the largest percentage increases in estimated population have occurred in Rockland and Orange counties, while Saratoga has had the fastest growing population of any upstate county.
  • In percentage terms, the biggest population losses since the last decennial census have been in upstate rural areas: Hamilton, Delaware, Chenango, Orleans and Essex counties.



About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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