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New York was one of eight states to lose residents in 2023, according to new Pew analysis

In 2023, eight states lost residents and New York was one of them.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
In 2023, eight states lost residents and New York was one of them.

Concerns about New Yorkers leaving the Empire State are being rekindled by a new analysis of existing U.S. Census data.

The Pew Charitable Trusts' Fiscal 50 is an interactive platform that presents data-driven portraits of individual states' fiscal conditions. One of Fiscal 50's findings does a deep-dive into population shift.

Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro is state demographics and economy analyst manager for Fiscal 50.  

"Our population change indicator not only tells you who is gaining and losing population annually and over the long term, but it also gives you the inside scoop as to why those shifts occur," said Biernacka-Lievestro. In 2023, eight states lost residents and New York was one of them. What you can quickly see here is that 2023 was actually the eighth straight year of population declines in New York. In each of those years, New York had more births than deaths."

Biernacka-Lievestro says Census Bureau figures show that New York led states that saw a drop in population in the period of June 2022 through July 2023. Another batch of figures reported the state's population dropped by roughly 630,000 between July 2020 and July 2023. Earlier data shows New York’s population dropped by more than 76,000 from 2018 to 2019.

 "So the declines in each of those years were driven by people moving out of the state. What is really clear and striking here is that while this trend was certainly accelerated by the pandemic, the trend itself started years before the outbreak of COVID-19,” Biernacka-Lievestro said.

Republican state Senator Jim Tedisco of the 44th district says if population loss continues unchecked, New York could lose three congressional seats in the 2030 Census, further eroding the state’s influence in Washington.

"We won't be the Empire State anymore, we'll be fast moving towards being called the empty state," Tedisco said. "And we're not only number one out-migration. Last year during the redistricting, and during the Census, we were one of seven states that lost another congressperson."

Tedisco and Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of the 111th district co-authored a bill that calls for creation of a 13-member bipartisan state "Out-Migration Commission." The Capital Region lawmakers say it would look into why people are leaving and recommend policy changes to stop it.

Santabarbara envisions the commission having a larger role in making New York "more attractive and more affordable."

"We also expect this commission to examine, areas like agriculture, energy needs [and] opportunities, health care, economic development, the environment, education and mandate and tax relief," Santabarbara said. 

Empire Center for Public Policy Research Director Ken Girardin criticized the proposal. "The best indicator of a region's economic health is whether people are choosing to live there, and New York's struggle to attract people is a reflection of its sluggish recovery — especially upstate — from the last three recessions," said Girardin. 

In January, a spokesperson for Governor Kathy Hochul told WAMC she will review the legislation if it gets through the legislature.

The Tedisco-Santabarbara bill has been languishing in a Senate committee.

Fiscal 50 first launched in 2013 with the goal of helping state policymakers access and better understand fiscal, economic, and demographic trends. Explore the updated Fiscal 50 at www.pewtrusts.org/fiscal50.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.