(The Center Square) – The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the state of New York lost more than 75,000 residents from July 2018 to July 2019. While that goes slightly against national totals, the Empire State still falls in line with the rest of the country on aging trends.
As the nation gets grayer, so, too, does New York. Census Bureau data released Thursday morning indicates that the state’s population aged 70-74 increased by more than 34,000 residents. That’s a jump of 4.3 percent, compared to a national increase of 4.8 percent.
In all, New York’s senior population, aged 65 and older, grew by 2.3 percent, or 74,321 people. Offsetting those gains, the state population aged 18-65 dropped by 108,717, or 0.9 percent. The children’s population fell by 42,394, or 1 percent.
The biggest declines came in the population aged 45-49 (41,135, or 3.3 percent) and aged 50-54 (38,167, or 2.9 percent). Those age groups typically represent workers in their peak earning years, which means that as more New Yorkers may be in need of services of the aging, it’s also losing valuable tax revenue that it could use to pay for those services.
New York’s total population is estimated at slightly less than 19.5 million, compared to a U.S. population that rose by 1.6 million to 328.2 million.
The state's drop of 76,790 marked the fourth consecutive year the state’s population has declined. While those decreases have been incremental, Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said they still show a disturbing trend.
While the Census figures do not break down population by city or county, Gelinas said the figures the nonpartisan, free-market public policy think has seen show New York City is losing people just like the rest of the state.
These estimates, of course, took place before the coronavirus pandemic created a major health crisis in New York. Not only did tens of thousands die, but The New York Times estimated that 420,000 – roughly 5 percent of the city’s population – fled town.
That could further exacerbate the situation that soon will face city and state leaders.
“It's a real open question as to how many of those people are going to come back. And at what wealth level will people come back,” Gelinas said. “Will wealthier people stay in their second homes? Will middle-class will come back because their jobs start to come back? It's not a very good place to start out from.”
One way the city and state can work to lure working-age people back to New York is by using COVID-19 stimulus funding, if and when it becomes available, toward a list of select essential services, such as sanitation and public transit, she said. But that also must come with some belt-tightening from public officials as well.
The cost of living and working in New York will need to be addressed as well, Gelinas added.
“Some of that, free markets, hopefully, will do by itself,” she said. “So, if (housing's) cheaper both to rent and to buy, if it's cheaper to rent office space, if taxes are lower, not higher, then more people will say, ‘OK, I'm willing to take a chance on coming back to New York.’”