For a second consecutive year, New York’s population loss was mainly concentrated downstate, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.

During the 12-month period ending last July 1, the 50 counties of upstate New York lost 20,846 residents, a decrease of 0.33 percent, while the downstate region lost a combined total of 55,944 people, or 0.42 percent. Virtually all of the change (53,264) occurred in New York City, accounting for the bulk of the state’s net decrease of 76,790 in 2018-19. It was the third straight year of decline in the city’s estimated population after a long period of growth.

The latest downstate population estimate of 13,241,115 reflects an increase of 202,289 (1.6 percent) since the 2010 census, while the combined population upstate stood at 6,212,446, a decrease of 126,830 people (-2.0 percent) since 2010. Since the last decennial census in 2010, the total state population has grown by 75,459, or just 0.4 percent.

As shown below, 45 of 50 upstate counties have lost population since the last decennial census; in all but six of the losing counties, the decline has exceeded 2 percent of the 2010 base population. Dutchess, Putnam and Suffolk remain the only downstate counties to have lost population since the census.

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Highlights of 2019 Census Bureau estimates for New York Counties
(See Tables 1 and 2 for more details)

    • In the last two years, the Census Bureau has begun making large downward adjustments to its estimates 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 2016, in particular, has been reduced significantly. This also has reduced estimated populations below previous counts for some upstate urban counties.
    • Ontario and Saratoga remain the only New York counties to have experienced positive domestic migration since 2010, meaning they attracted more new residents from the rest of the nation, including other New York counties, than they lost (see map below).
    • New York City’s total population remains 161,684 higher than measured by the 2010 census, with the county-boroughs of Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), the Bronx and Queens, 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, Essex and Chemung counties.2010-2019-map-5622300

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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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