What accounts for New York’s chronic inability to attract and retain more Americans than it loses every year? Any attempt to answer that question must begin with New York’s state and local tax burden, perennially ranked among the heaviest in the country. Taxes aside, likely explanations differ regionally. Downstate residents face high taxes and housing costs rated among the most “severely unaffordable” in the world. Land-use regulations in downstate New York also tend to inhibit growth. In upstate New York, housing is relatively inexpensive but even more heavily taxed, and new economic opportunities have been scarce.Weather, on the other hand, seems less compelling as an explanation. After all, while the Sunbelt’s climate has long attracted northerners, cold winters haven’t stopped New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota from adding population while upstate New York has been shrinking.This much is clear: with New York now facing the most serious fiscal and economic crisis in its modern history, government policies should be aimed at slowing down and ultimately reversing the state’s population drain.
That's the conclusion provided in the executive summary. Perhaps the actual report is a bit more compelling. But the overview plays fast and loose with the numbers. Net domestic migration isn't very useful for this kind of analysis. I know from experience that the IRS provides disaggregated data. Invoking the term "exodus" and then presenting net migration as evidence is the work of hucksters. The intent is to deceive, using the red herring of brain drain to achieve a certain policy end.
Most of the NY State media ate it up. One of the more thoughtful interrogations:
Still, despite all these trends, New York’s population rose 2.7 percent this decade, to 19.5 million people. The report says the top reason for that is a growing influx of foreign immigrants downstate.Other researchers have reached different conclusions when studying migration patterns in New York.The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for instance, has found that while upstate has been experiencing a net loss of college-educated workers, it’s because of a low rate of people moving into New York—rather than an abnormally high rate of people leaving the state.
Out-migration rates are abnormally low, now more than in the recent past thanks to the Great Recession. That's hard to discern given slight of hand the Empire Center employs. Even the conclusion is confusing. Is cold weather Wisconsin growing population because of immigrants? Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are net migration losers. Shrinking states, in relocation terms.
The executive summary, designed for easy media consumption, is bullshit.