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Report on New Yorkers Moving Out-of-State Sparks Debate about Why

In one recent year (2013), more people moved out of New York than any other state, according to a new report that has sparked a debate about the possible reasons. Credit: Linda DuBose/freeimages.com
In one recent year (2013), more people moved out of New York than any other state, according to a new report that has sparked a debate about the possible reasons. Credit: Linda DuBose/freeimages.com
September 15, 2015

NEW YORK - Nearly 115,000 people moved out of New York in 2013 – more than any other state that year – says a new report based on Internal Revenue Service data by the group Americans for Tax Reform.

It has become fuel for those who argue high taxes and a hostile business environment are chasing people out of the state. But E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy, says people have been migrating out of New York in steady numbers for more than 50 years.

He says the reasons also may be different depending on which part of the state they're leaving.

"Very high housing costs and a high cost of living downstate, and a lack of economic opportunity upstate," says McMahon. "So, the upstate economy is weaker and doesn't create as many jobs. The downstate economy may be stronger, but it's a very expensive place to live."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office blasted the report, saying it doesn't take into account about 270,000 who moved into the state in 2013. McMahon notes most of those new residents are from other countries, which is consistent with New York City's history as a port of entry for most foreign immigrants.

Matthew Lasner, an Urban Affairs and Planning assistant professor at Hunter College, says more people in the Midwest and Northeast are moving to southern and western states, partly because they're in a better financial position to do so.

He points out that, because New York's population is larger than states in those regions, it would naturally have a larger number of people leaving the state.

"Businesses for any number of reasons, and more importantly ordinary people, have been looking to make these moves for decades," says Lasner. "Regardless of tax policy and as much as we in New York love New York the fact is the cost of doing business in a kind of sunbelt location is often lower."

Lasner says the only real difference with recent migration trends out of New York is that fewer people left the state during the Great Recession, and people tend to stay put during any recession. As the economy improves, he says, more people simply have the funds and financial security to make big moves.

Nia Hamm, Public News Service - NY