New York’s outmigration trend could pick up steam, study suggests

Ryan DeBerardinis /

(The Center Square) – New York state’s trend of population declines could gain momentum in the coming year, according to a new study.

Redfin, a real estate brokerage firm, releases quarterly reports on population migration between states across the U.S. In its third-quarter report, the company pointed to a respondent survey that revealed New York was the state with the second highest rate of outmigration, trailing only California.

Walk, New York City street photography by Deborah Julian

Based on the survey data, 47,000 more New York residents sought to leave the state than enter it between July and September – a time when COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions still remained stronger than most other areas of the country.

On the flip side, some of the states with less prohibitive restrictions amid the pandemic gained residents in year-over-year comparisons in the third quarter, according to Redfin’s findings. Florida was the largest third-quarter beneficiary, with 22,000 more Redfin users saying they moved into the state.

“New York’s loss is Florida’s gain,” Redfin economist Taylor Marr said in a statement of the findings. “When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, remote workers started leaving New York City and its ultra-expensive housing in search of wide-open spaces, sunshine and affordable homes – all of which you can find in Florida, with the bonus of no state income tax.”

Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo has touched concerns of outmigration on a few instances this year amid his frequent COVID-19 press briefings.

This summer, for instance, Cuomo weighed in on the number of New York City residents fleeing elsewhere – namely in Manhattan.

He said a federal bill allowing people to pay federal income taxes based on where they are working virtually, rather than a physical office location, would add undue burden to the state and could cause further erosion to the state’s population – particularly in New York City.

“What that means is people wouldn’t have to pay their NYC tax surcharge,” Cuomo said in a late July press briefing. “That is really disturbing.”

Lawmakers on the other side of the political spectrum have offered different views on the reasons behind the state’s declines. In a statement after the Redfin study, New York Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Fulton, said the state’s “toxic” tax climate was the culprit.

“The Assembly Minority Conference has consistently advocated for reforms to the state’s prohibitive tax climate and has railed against the liberal majority’s failure to acknowledge the long-term harm it is imposing on New York,” Barclay said.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau has revealed New York state’s population declines were trending downward before the onset of the novel coronavirus, based on annual estimates.

Population estimates in 2018, for instance, pointed to a 1.55% statewide decline – from 19.84 million residents to 19.54 million residents. In 2019, the state shed an additional 0.45% of its total population, reporting 19.45 million residents.

While Florida has been frequently cited as a destination for outbound New York state residents – even before the pandemic – other locales in the Northeast corridor also have been pinpointed.

In a January report, E.J. McMahon of the think tank The Empire Center noted IRS data has revealed where some of the former New York state residents are moving.

“When migration patterns from New York are examined at the regional and county level, some different patterns emerge,” McMahon wrote.

Citing an example, McMahon said, “While Florida was the leading net destination for seven upstate regions and Long Island, neighboring Connecticut was the top destination for migrating Westchester County residents, and New Jersey was the top destination for out-migrants from New York City.”



Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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