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NYS losing population to other states

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It's a continuing trend--an Albany think tank reports that New York State lost over 1.5 million people to other states from 2000 to 2010. The report is based on data from the US census bureau and the IRS.

While many New Yorkers continued to seek out hotter economies and warmer retirements, the Census Bureau numbers show the state's population still had a net gain: 2% over the decade to 19.4 million. That was largely fueled by immigrants moving into New York City.

The Empire Center is affiliated with the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute. It says New York had the greatest loss nationally of residents to other states for the second decade in a row.

The Center's E.J. McMahon says the combination of domestic out migration, combined with a slowdown in new arrivals from other countries, gave New York the dubious distinction of having the third highest negative population shift in the nation.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

McMahon says immigration has slowed likely because of stricter regulations after 9/11 and a slow economy that does not present as many new job opportunities for foreigners.

The Empire Center, which worked on the report with the recently retired New York State chief demographer, Robert Scardamalia, says the preliminary data does not show whether it’s younger or older people who are leaving, they say that data is forthcoming and will be featured in future reports. They did find that certain areas of the state, Western New York, and parts of the Southern Tier and the North Country, suffered the greatest population losses.

The study offers no conclusions on why people are leaving, but the Empire Center’s McMahon says the population shift from New York to other states is part of a fifty year trend, and he blames what he says are high tax rates and excessive government regulation for the exodus.

“It reflects job opportunities or the lack of them, it reflects the higher cost of housing in downstate New York,” said McMahon.”

The other states reporting the top three population losses during the decade are Louisiana, which suffered the devastating Hurricane Katrina, and Illinois and Michigan.  McMahon says there is one thing all those states have in common, their economies have grown very slowly. New Jersey, Massachusetts and California also lost population to other states.

McMahon, who previously worked for republican lawmakers, says he thinks Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is so far on the right track to remedy some of the problems that have caused the continued out migration of New Yorkers. Cuomo implemented a property tax cap and imposed a state budget with cuts but with no new taxes, “We may be heading toward a turnaround,” said McMahon. “I don’t think we have definitively turned ourselves around yet.”

He says the natural gas drilling process known as hydro fracking could help bring some jobs to some of the regions who have lost the greatest numbers of people,  Cuomo’s environmental department is on track to permit some drilling on private lands by 2012. But he says the biggest factor that will determine whether New York continues to lose population in this decade, is the health of the national economy, which right now is sickly.

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