New York now trails Florida in population

| Watertown Daily Times

The percentage of New Yorkers leaving the state is the highest it has been since 2007, according to a new analysis by the Empire Center.

While the causes for the out-migration differ between upstate and downstate, the simple message is it has become very expensive to live in New York, according to Edmund J. McMahon, president of the fiscally conservative think tank.

“The commonality is that the comparative tax burden is high statewide,” Mr. McMahon said. “Upstate it is a lack of economic opportunity. There’s been very little job growth upstate during this period. Downstate, there’s been more job growth, but housing affordability, I think, is a big problem.”

Between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, New York lost 150,000 more residents than it gained, resulting in a net “domestic migration” loss of 462,172 people since 2010 and 2 million since 2000, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This year, New York fell to fourth place on the list of the nation’s most populous states.

Florida became the third most populous, according to the bureau. Newspapers there capitalized on the development, taunting New York with headlines such as “You call that an Empire?” by the Tampa Tribune.

Mr. McMahon placed much of the blame for the state’s population woes on local government expenses and a difficult business environment.

He also faulted some of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s policies, including the recent decision to ban hydraulic fracturing as well as the Start-Up New York initiative, which aims to foster technology development by offering tax incentives to emerging companies located adjacent to approved universities in the state.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that a majority of New York state voters — 55 percent — approved of the governor’s decision on fracking.

But Mr. McMahon, who noted that many of the people leaving the state left from the New York City area because of the high cost of living there, said the ban represented a significant loss for the upstate economy.

“(Banning) fracking is throwing away a huge economic growth opportunity,” Mr. McMahon said. “There’s nothing the state can try to force-feed into that Southern Tier region, in particular, that’s going to come close to replicating what fracking would have done.”

© 2014 Watertown Daily Times