The number of people leaving Nassau and Suffolk for other states is increasing, Newsday's Robert Brodsky reports.

Long Island lost more than 110,000 residents — roughly the populations of the city of Long Beach, the village of Mineola and Riverhead and Southold towns combined — between 2017 and 2022, a trend fueled by younger Islanders fleeing for other states, according to a report released Thursday.

While Long Island continues to have an interstate migration deficit of nearly 38,000 residents annually, those numbers are offset partially by a surge of New Yorkers moving to Nassau and Suffolk from other parts of the state. They are predominantly coming from the five boroughs, data from the U.S. Census and analyzed by the Long Island Association's Research Institute shows.

A region's population can fluctuate from a host of factors, including the difference between birth and death rates and the balance of new immigrants arriving or departing. But domestic migration tends to be the most volatile indicator and the one most prone to economic, social and political conditions, researchers said.

The interstate migration deficit is the difference between the number of Long Islanders leaving for other states or other parts of New York and the number of those people relocating from those places to Long Island.


  • Long Island experienced a net domestic migration deficit of more than 100,000 residents between 2017 and 2022, largely from Nassau and Suffolk residents moving out of state.
  • That deficit was offset somewhat by a surplus of residents relocating to Long Island from other parts of New York, predominantly from Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
  • Individuals leaving the region to move out of state are generally younger, less likely to have a four-year degree and more likely to be unmarried, without children and to have lower incomes than the median Long Islander.

“This is a tough place to operate a business and is a high-cost region for families, young professionals as well as employers,” said Matthew Cohen, president of the Melville-based Long Island Association, which amplifies the voice of the region's business community. “We hope the survey serves as a wake-up call and that policymakers enact new initiatives that are going to stimulate economic growth, expand the commercial tax base and create good paying, sustainable jobs for the future.”

The data magnifies a trend that's been ongoing for at least a decade: more Long Islanders are leaving for greener pastures out of state than people are choosing to relocate here.

For example, between 2017 and 2021, nearly 267,000 Long Islanders moved out of New York as compared to 97,000 people who relocated to Nassau and Suffolk from spots across the country, the data shows. 

The disparity grew in 2022, as 74,202 Long Islanders left the state — the most of any year studied in the report — compared to 15,841 moving to the region from across the country, the report shows.

The demographics of the movers also tell a story.

Individuals leaving Long Island to go out-of-state are an average age of 29, generally younger than the median resident of Nassau or Suffolk, data shows. They're also less likely than the median Long Island resident to have a four-year degree, and more likely to be unmarried and without children or a home as well as to have lower incomes.

The states most are leaving for are Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Seniors relocating to Florida and elsewhere in their retirement reflect a small portion of out-of-state movers, the report shows.

“There's a significant portion of people who are leaving, quite frankly, because they just don't think they'll ever own a home in a place like Long Island and are seeking a better cost of living,” said Seth Forman, director of the LIA Research Institute.

John Cameron, chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, said many young people relocate to the region for the higher wages but get “sticker shock'” when faced with housing prices.

“The salaries look attractive, but when they come here, they go, 'I can't afford to live here,' ” said Cameron, who would like to see the region increase its rental stock. “It's a real challenge.”

Researchers noted the net domestic migration deficit of 110,000 was even higher between 2010-2014, the period covered in their previous report.

While Long Island continues to lose more residents than it gains each year through domestic migration, an exception was 2020 — the outbreak of the pandemic — when the region's population ticked up by 4,351, largely from residents fleeing the city for the more spacious suburbs, experts said.

The dynamic of city residents relocating to Long Island is growing, data shows.

Between 2017 and 2022, there was a surplus of 117,000 people moving to Long Island from other parts of the state compared to residents leaving Nassau and Suffolk for other parts of New York, the data shows. Those numbers reflect a change from 2010-2014 when Long Island experienced a migration deficit with the rest of the state, figures show.

The majority of the people coming to Long Island from elsewhere in the state are from Queens, followed by Brooklyn and Manhattan, the data shows.

The region's two county executives said the exodus off Long Island must be reversed.

“It is imperative that we do all we can to make Suffolk County more affordable. We cannot continue to lose residents, who cannot continue to shoulder high taxes and lack of high-paying paying jobs,” said Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman added: “It is not surprising that people are leaving New York State where taxes are some of the highest in the nation.”

The next steps, Cohen said, will be critical.

“Demographics is destiny and as a region, if we're not growing, we're dying,” he said. “And to remain economically competitive with other parts of New York State, and other parts of the country, we need to stop this trend in its tracks.”

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