New York state lost nearly 102,000 residents over the past year—the most in the nation—new data finds. The Empire State’s population was about 19.57 million as of July 1 after it was roughly 19.67 million just 12 months prior, census data shows.
New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time for reflection and resolutions. New York’s government should take advantage of that and reconsider its “progressive” policies that are driving hundreds of thousands of people out of the state every year.
The Census Bureau released new data Tuesday showing that New York is hemorrhaging its most valuable resource—people—at an alarming rate. From July 2022 to July 2023, the latest data available, 217,000 more people left New York than moved there.
For context, 166,000 people died in New York during that time. So many more people are leaving the state than are dying there that the effect on the population is worse than a doubling of the death rate.
If the politicians overseeing this mass exodus wonder why it’s happening, they need only look in the nearest mirror. Their high taxes, wasteful government spending and soft-on-crime policies are among the self-inflicted wounds slowly bleeding New York dry.
In March 2021, I authored a study that predicted more than 1 million New Yorkers would leave the state over 10 years because of the latest tax increase. So far, the official Census Bureau data have been in line with that estimate.
Even before the tax increase, New York already had the highest state and local tax burden as a percentage of residents’ income, almost twice that of other big states like Florida and Texas.
But that wasn’t enough for the greedy bureaucrats who, in 2021, increased both the number of tax brackets and the top marginal tax rate. High-income earners in New York City today pay a top rate of almost 15%. With federal income and payroll taxes, it’s almost 60%. No wonder so many have left!
Those who moved to neighboring Pennsylvania now pay a flat income tax at a rate lower than the lowest income bracket in New York.
While politicians downplay the negative incentives produced by their tax hikes, the numbers don’t lie: New York is arguably in worse shape than any other state. The net losses from domestic migration were 1.1% of the state’s population in just 12 months—the biggest drop in the nation.
Fleeing to tax havens
The flood of New Yorkers searching for tax havens is completely overwhelming the number of people born in the state, causing the total population (in both absolute and percentage terms) to drop faster than anywhere else—another ignominious first-place finish.
The cumulative effect of these annual population drains is already hamstringing the Empire State’s economy, and it’s getting worse every time we ring in another New Year. From mid-2020 through mid2023, the state’s population shrank by 631,000. When those people left, they took their jobs and incomes with them.
That’s costing the New York economy billions of dollars, and it’s also draining state tax revenue, contrary to what the politicians were hoping for. Even former Gov. Andrew Cuomo—not a fiscal conservative by any stretch—belatedly admitted that if you raise taxes too much, people will just leave.
And they have, escaping en masse to low-tax states like Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. In terms of state and local tax burden, they are 11th, ninth, third and sixth, respectively. And if during their New Year’s reflection, the politicians try chalking up this southbound migration to the warmer weather, let’s consider Wyoming for a moment.
The Empire State is also losing people to the Cowboy State despite the latter having winters more brutal than New York’s. It’s no coincidence that Wyoming has the second-lowest tax burden in the country, less than half of New York’s.
It’s long past time New York politicians realized what their crippling tax hikes have done to this once-great state. A perfect New Year’s resolution for them would be to reform the wasteful budget and use the savings to provide some much-needed relief to hardworking New Yorkers.
Alas, New York’s “progressive” politicians have been stuck on this track for decades, so we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for them to change on Jan. 1.
This piece originally appeared in the New York Post