New York again saw the largest 12-month population loss of...

New York again saw the largest 12-month population loss of any state — just over 101,000 — for a period ending in July, according to new data from the United States Census Bureau. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

New York again saw the largest 12-month population loss of any state — just over 101,000 — this time for a period ending in July, according to new Census data.

Although the decline between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023 fell short of New York's previous two-year drop, experts said the downward trend underscores the challenge facing lawmakers to retain residents, industry and a thriving middle class.

“If we don’t address our cost of living crisis, we will continue to lose Long Islanders and stunt our economic growth," Matt Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, said in an email.

"All of us in the private sector and government need to step up to the plate and implement meaningful solutions to issues," Cohen said, "including housing, transportation, child care and support for businesses so we can expand our tax base and create jobs.”

Cohen, who heads Long Island's largest business group, and other experts said New York must invest in economic development, devise solutions to the region's high cost of living and provide more services and programs.

"One of the biggest migration drivers is jobs, and the state is still lagging the rest of the country in terms of recovering its COVID-driven job losses," Ken Girardin, research director of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, said in an interview.

'Red flag'

In a statement, Andrew Perry, senior policy analyst for the Fiscal Policy Institute, also based in Albany, said: "The latest Census data should serve as a red flag for policymakers: New York is losing more residents than any other state in the nation. Together with the Fiscal Policy Institute's latest report, which reveals the wealthiest residents typically leave at one-quarter the rate of all other New Yorkers, this data reflects a state that is struggling to retain its working and middle class. In light of this population loss, the State should make deep investments in the services and programs that keep New Yorkers here — including housing, child care, and public infrastructure."

Nationwide, population trends "are returning to pre-pandemic norms as the number of annual deaths decreased last year and migration reverted to patterns not seen since before 2020," the U.S. Census Bureau said in a news release Tuesday announcing the 2023 Vintage Population Estimates.

New York's population was estimated at 19,571,216 on July 1, 2023, down 101,984 from its estimate a year earlier, at 19,673,200, a 0.5% decline. But the loss between July 2021 and 2022 was even higher, at 181,326, a 0.9% decline.

Previous data the bureau released in October of "state-to-state migration flows" between 2021 and 2022 showed New York had an estimated net loss of 244,000 people to other states, with the largest number relocating to Florida, as well as to other parts of the Sun Belt, a longstanding pattern. 

State populations

New York was one of eight states that lost population between 2022 and 2023, according to the estimates. California had the next largest population decline after New York, at 75,423; followed by Illinois, 32,826; Louisiana, 14,274; Pennsylvania, 10,408; Oregon, 6,021; Hawaii, 4,261 and West Virginia, 3,964.

New York remains the nation's fourth-most populous state, behind California, Texas and Florida.

Domestic migration losses in New York — residents who moved to other states — slowed in 2023 to 216,778, compared with 298,341 in 2022. However, the flow of international migrants coming into New York in 2023 dipped to 73,867, compared with 77,285 the year before. New York also had fewer deaths in 2023 than the year before for a larger natural increase of 41,536 in 2023, compared with 33,724 natural increase the prior year. 

"For decades, more people have been leaving New York in greater numbers than arriving. That’s kind of nothing new," said Jan Vink, a researcher with Cornell University's Program on Applied Demographics. He said the state's population losses through domestic migration "used to be offset by natural increase, but with natural increase going down, the offset is not there anymore." And international migration has declined in recent years as well, he said.

In response to a request for comment on the estimates, Gov. Kathy Hochul's press office forwarded remarks she made Nov. 30 during an appearance at New York University's Schack Institute of Real Estate.

"I'm looking at the states that people are going to. OK, Florida. A little nicer weather. You got that, but that's all you've got," Hochul said. "But we've lost some people to Florida. We've lost some people to Texas. But let me look at three other states. For those who think it's all about the weather, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania," alluding to census data showing those states also attracting large numbers of New Yorkers .

Those states have "similar tax structures [to New York] so it's not the taxes, same weather," she said. "The difference is they built more housing over the last few decades."

When more housing is built, Hochul added in her November remarks, "the prices go down."

Census Bureau officials said they plan to release nationwide county-by-county population estimates in March.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • New York led the nation in population loss between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023, at 101,984, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2023 Population Estimates.
  • New York's estimated population in 2023 was 19,571,216, down from an estimated 19,673,200 in 2022.
  • Researchers and a leading business group say policymakers should make economic investments and seek solutions to the region's high cost of living, and address housing, transportation and child care needs as well.

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