Recently, annual statistics were released by Election Data Services, based on their review of updated U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
The numbers cover the period from July 1, 2017 through July 1, 2018. According to their figures, New York State was one of the highest population losers with 48,510 people departing our state.
Both sides of this argument as to what these numbers mean have maintained that the loss was either not that big or a symptom of a strained economy. It is a fact that New York was one of nine states to lose population in the past year. And it is a continuing trend.
Since then New York has lost nearly 1.2 million residents to other states.The good news is that thanks to international migration and job seekers coming here, we are seeing some growth.
Putting aside the interpretation of whether New York State is in good shape or in trouble, there are many cold hard historical facts that can’t be ignored.
In 1953, New York had 45 members of Congress and we now have 27. If the data holds true after the 2020 census, the state may lose at least one and possibly two more Congressional seats.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that each year some New Yorkers retire and seek a warmer and less expensive place to live and it adds up.
It is also possible that thanks to the new Trump tax law, more New Yorkers will leave this year to find a home in a state that doesn’t have the same level of state and local taxes that we pay.
Regrettably, many of those outbound residents will be people of wealth, whose absence will be felt by businesses throughout the state. Places like Florida, which has no inheritance tax or income tax, will continue to attract New Yorkers and other Southern states will benefit as well.
The decision by Amazon that they will establish a major headquarters in Long Island City will unquestionably bring in new residents.
In addition, the massive West Side development promises to be a great attraction for millennials. Once completed, the area will become a city within a city, just like the Battery Park area that is now a family hotspot.
Being both the state legislature and the governor are from the same political party the decline in population should be of concern to these elected officials.
Early in the 2019 session, Mayor De Blasio will once again propose his millionaires tax as a way to fund mass transit and city operations. Some of the more progressive Assembly and Senate members may embrace that idea which could turn out to be another way to encourage wealthy residents to pack up and go elsewhere.
You can bet that every fiscal gimmick ever thought of will be proposed in an effort to pay for the needs of the MTA.
So far, there have been suggestions that the legalization of marijuana, congestion pricing and sports betting will all produce a bonanza of new dollars.
Increasing income taxes has been suggested as another way to balance the state’s budget, but the resistance of the business community has stopped that idea from advancing. This year it could gain some traction.
When there is a discussion about lost population somehow upstate New York is not part of the dialogue. I haven’t seen a breakdown of where the losses are by geography, but there is no doubt that upstate residents are a sizeable part of the 48,510 people who left. Serious efforts have been made by the Cuomo administration to pump dollars into the big cities, but the new job potential is downstate and in states like California and Texas.
Even though the new Legislature will be dominated by downstate officials, upstate must remain on the legislative radar.
For now, rather than get tied up in the debate over which side is responsible for population loss, it is better in 2019 for all New Yorkers to focus on how to keep taxes at a reasonable level and how we can make our state a more attractive and affordable home for all.