New York’s Population Declines Again

2019 is the fourth year in a row that New York lost more people than it gained. It has lost more people than any other state in the nation for the second year in a row in 2019

By Payne Horning

In what has become a grim annual tradition, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau again finds that the number of people who call New York home continues its slide downward.

Between 2018 and 2019, the state’s population dropped by 76,790 residents, or about 0.4%. This marks the fourth year in a row that New York lost more people than it gained.

According to the Census Bureau, New York was in the minority for the decline. Forty states and the District of Columbia increased their numbers. And although other states lost a larger share of their total population, New York experienced the largest numeric drop.

One of the few highlights from the annual report is that New York has more residents today than it did at the start of the decade. In 2010, there were 19,378,102 people living in the state. Today, there are 19,453,561. That’s a gain of 75,417 people, or about 4%. That said, most of New York’s population increase over the last 10 years came in the first half of the decade and the growth trailed almost every other state.

The reasons for Empire State’s paltry population rise are the subject of debate.

It was featured prominently in the state’s last gubernatorial election, which took place in 2018. The Republican candidate Marc Molinaro said New Yorkers were voting with their feet in response to the performance from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and his economic policies. To that end, the Brookings Institution notes that New York, California, and Illinois — three of the largest blue states in the country — saw the biggest out-migration to other states in the last few years of the decade. William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, says it signals a population shift from pricey, highly urbanized locales to other parts of the country as the national economy improved.

But Cuomo has pushed back on that idea, blaming the drop in New York on weather. He said people who have left were in search of warmer climates. There may be something to that. The Census Bureau’s report says the south experienced the largest numeric growth and percentage growth last year in the country. The northeast, on the other hand, saw its first population decrease this decade from 2018-2019.

Despite a minimal uptick in people, New York remains the fourth-largest state in the country, behind Florida, Texas and California. Pennsylvania, with 12,801,989, is a distant fifth.

Nationwide, the Census Bureau report notes that the United States’ population also saw modest increases over the decade. The number of people living in the country rose just 6.3%  since 2010 to 328,239,523. However, the data shows that may be coming to an end.

According to the Census Bureau, the nation’s natural increase — the number of births minus the number of deaths — is the biggest contributor to the U.S. population increase. And the new report says for the first time in decades, the natural increase dropped below 1 million in 2019.

The decline in the natural increase is widespread. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had fewer births in 2019 than 2018, including New York. And even in those states where the number of births rose, it was by small sums. Washington led the group with 612 more births in 2019 than 2018.

While there are numerous consequences from population changes among the states, perhaps the most important is the effect on their influence in the nation’s capital. Every 10 years, Congress apportions the House of Representatives’ 435 seats according to shifts in population. New York, which currently has 27 members of Congress, has lost seats every decade since 1940. The numbers show that trend is poised to continue.