After a small gain during the previous decade, upstate New York’s population dropped slightly between 2010 and 2014, according to Census Bureau data.

The population of the 50 counties north of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District decreased by 14,397 people, or 0.2 percent, during the latest four-year period, the Census Bureau estimated. Most of that drop was between 2013 and 2014, driven mainly by an increase in upstate residents moving to other states and regions. By contrast, upstate New York’s population had increased by 52,074 people, or 0.8 percent, between 2000 and 2010.

Thirty-eight of the 50 upstate counties lost population between 2010 and 2014—also in contrast to 2000-2010, when only 18 upstate counties lost residents. Growth in New York City was strong enough to push up the state’s total population by 368,115 people, or 1.9 percent, during the latest four-year period.

As detailed in the table below, migration explains much of the difference between upstate and downstate population trends. All regions of New York have lost population due to domestic migration—the movement of residents to other states (and among regions of New York)—but an influx of foreign immigrants has more than made up for domestic migration losses in New York City and neighboring suburban counties.



Highlights of 2010-14 Census Bureau estimates for New York

  • Kings County (Brooklyn) led the state with a population gain of 117,084 people, a growth rate of nearly 4.7 percent, thanks largely to a 111,974 “natural increase,” calculated as resident births minus resident deaths. Jefferson County, home to the Army base at Ft. Drum, had the largest natural increase on a percentage basis, boosting its overall population growth rate to 8th highest in the state (2.5 percent) despite also having a relatively large net migration loss.
  • Schoharie and Delaware counties, both devastated by Hurricane Irene in 2011, had the largest population losses in the state at 3.6 percent and 2.9 percent of base population, respectively. Fulton County and Greene County in the Catskills were not far behind, down roughly 2.6 percent each.
  • Every county/borough of New York City had a net migration gain except for Richmond (Staten Island), which lost 3,249 more residents to the rest of the state and country than it gained from overseas. Outside the city, net migration gains were estimated for nine counties, including Albany, Erie, Nassau, Ontario, Rockland, Saratoga, Schuyler, Tompkins and Westchester.
  • Schuyler, Ontario and Saratoga were the only counties to have positive domestic migration rates, meaning they attracted more new residents from the rest of the nation, including other New York counties, than they lost. (See Figure 2)
  • Hamilton and Schuyler counties netted no foreign immigrants during the period, and Tioga County was estimated to have lost a net 18 residents to foreign countries. Other counties with very low percentage gains from foreign immigrations included Washington, Chenango, Fulton, Washington and Warren.




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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