New data out Friday show that New York state has the dubious distinction of ranking first in the nation in population decline, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The news is alarming as state residents, including those in Greene and Columbia counties, prepare for the 2020 Census.
Worse, there is more to come on the horizon, government and economic leaders said Friday.
“It’s not a shock to anybody,” said Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore. “This has been going on for quite some time.”
Columbia County Economic Development President F. Michael Tucker agreed, saying, “The data reflect an ongoing trend, which is predicted to continue here in New York.”
Many factors can be blamed for the top-ranked exodus from the Empire State.
New Yorkers are bailing for warmer southern climes where big snowstorms and bitter cold are rare. The highest taxes in the country are driving people out. New York has an unfavorable climate for business. Strict regulations and, again, exorbitant taxes make it difficult to attract businesses and retain them.
We must remember the natural population dynamics. New Yorkers are living longer but having fewer children. New York is aging. Older residents occupy a larger segment of the population than they did in the past.
Another factor is a curious economic Catch-22. The cost of living is too expensive where employment opportunities exist, while Columbia and Greene counties lack good jobs but the costs are more manageable here.
Overall, Friday’s report reveals a spotty economic atmosphere in which small gains are mitigated by large problems. The data show New Yorkers of all ages are fleeing the state for a variety of reasons ranging from high taxes to climate change. Young people are moving to other areas of the country to take advantage of a relaxed labor market and pay less in taxes. The older population is migrating to find lower costs with which to enjoy their retirement.
New York’s policy of taxes and fees topped by rules that hamstring businesses and undermine the opportunity to create and retain jobs is giving people little choice but to leave. In other words, business and government will need to adapt to a new normal where population decline will become a bigger issue in the coming decade.