ALBANY >> New York got a double dose of bad news Tuesday, as it dropped to fourth place among most populated states amid signs the alarming trend of people moving out is accelerating once again.
The population exodus “is back almost to matching a level of 2007,” E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center said. “Our economy hasn’t gotten any better relative to the other places people are going.”
The recession kept people stagnant for several years, but with the economy improving, New Yorkers are heading for the door once again for jobs and brighter futures, McMahon said.
As for a new Census report out Tuesday showing New York falling behind Florida in population, “it’s a long-term trend. If anything had happened to slow the trend in recent years, we’d still be number three.”
McMahon says the reasons people are leaving have nothing to do with winter weather and are only partially the result of high taxes. Bigger factors are a lack of affordable housing downstate and a chronically poor upstate economy with little economic opportunity to keep people there.
“There’s no jobs being created upstate; net, virtually none,” he said.
In a memo posted online Tuesday, the Empire Center said the improving economy is why “the movement of New Yorkers to other states (has) surged back to pre-recession levels.”
“During the 12 months ending last July, 153,921 more residents moved out of New York than moved into it from other states, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates,” the Empire Center stated. “It was the Empire State’s largest estimated outflow since 2008, and it brought New York’s estimated net ‘domestic migration’ loss to 462,172 people since 2010, and to 2 million residents since 2000.”
On the plus side, the group said New York drew 118,799 foreign immigrants, second only to California.
“Thanks in part to a high birth rate among recent immigrants, the Empire State was credited by the Census Bureau with an estimated ‘natural increase’ of 86,353 people, more than any state except California and Texas,” it said.
The census reported Tuesday that Florida has overtaken New York as the third most populous, trailing the two mega-states, California and Texas.
“By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state,” the Census reported. “Florida’s population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million.”
That compares to 38.8 million people in California and 27 million in Texas. In descending order, the remainder of the top 10 list of most populous states is Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan.
“Due to its large net domestic migration loss, New York’s total population of 19,746,227 was up just 0.3 percent, less than half the national rate during the period. As a result, New York for the first time fell to fourth place in the nation’s population rankings behind Florida … Based on previous data trends, many of Florida’s newest residents undoubtedly are former New Yorkers,” the Empire Center memo says.
McMahon said New York still does well in attracting immigrants but has a hard time keeping them. He attributed that to high housing costs downstate caused by “NIMBYism” in the suburbs and hurdles to building affordable housing in New York City.
Immigrants who come to New York for the economic opportunity end up leaving because they are priced out of the downstate housing market. Upstate would be a natural destination for new arrivals, but affordable housing prices are no match for the near total lack of jobs there.
As for Buffalo snow storms and miserable upstate winters, they play a small role in decisions on where to live in many cases. “North Dakota has dreadful winters,” he said.
The Census said North Dakota, a center for fracking mining of gas and oil, was the fastest growing state last year.
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