It’s the demography, stupid, as Mark Steyn would say. And the New York Times delivers the bad news today to its cocooned readers:
Beyond a blow to New Yorkers’ collective ego, the changing population pattern could have many practical and political implications, including diminished congressional delegations, a setback New York already suffered in 2010 — the year of the last decennial census count — when the state lost two districts, while Florida gained two seats. Census data also inform how billions of dollars in federal funding and grants are divvied up among the states, for things like highway planning and construction, public aid for housing and health care and education programs.
All of which has Florida feeling good.
“Every number we see, if we don’t pass them this year, we’re going to pass them in the next few months,” Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican, said in an interview last week. “Florida’s on a roll.”
A closer look at the numbers shows that New York is not actually losing population. It has been growing at about 1 percent annually of late, but it simply cannot keep up with Florida’s rate of growth, which was about 2.7 percent between April 2010 and mid-2012, according to the Census Bureau. However, New York’s population is declining in upstate cities like Buffalo, which has lost more than 10 percent of its population since 2000, as well as places like Syracuse and Rochester, where population is largely stagnant.
Turning around upstate has been a major focus of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, who has tried to revive its fortunes through a variety of economic development programs, including the legalization of more casinos and a program that allows businesses to start or relocate on or near college campuses and pay no state taxes for 10 years.
Economic “development” programs? You just might be doing it wrong; even GE is shipping its factories out of New York State and down to Florida, despite championing higher and higher taxes and regulations 24/7 on MSNBC, which it owned until recently.
And it’s all happening all so “unexpectedly,” as the namesake publication of New York’s outgoing mayor would say. All so, so, unexpectedly:
Paterson could have recited facts and figures from census reports on how New York ranked dead last, in both raw numbers and percentages, in net domestic population losses between 2000 and 2004, with nearly 183,000 residents leaving the state annually. While immigration from other countries more than made up for these losses, New York still lost some ground in its percentage of the nation’s population. And immigration could slow precipitously with the economy’s woes, as a protracted credit slowdown will lessen the state’s need for Parisian investment bankers as well as Salvadoran construction workers. The governor could also have cited numbers from the Tax Foundation showing that New York’s state and local tax burden is a full one-fourth higher than the national average, and significantly higher than the burden in some of the states competing most fiercely with it for jobs and residents: Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and most of the states in the new South.
Instead, Paterson cited a number of personal friends, all former New Yorkers, who have contacted him from out of state since his ascent to the governorship. “A friend from primary school, Randy San Antonio, told me he moved to Dallas 20 years ago,” Paterson began. “Another friend, Randy Watts, had moved to Reno. A friend from Syracuse, Marvin Lee Simons, said he’s working in Lower Manhattan. I said we should get together . . . and he said, ‘Well, I don’t live in New York. I live in western Pennsylvania.’ Jeff and Stacey Stackhouse wanted to start a business on Long Island. They moved two years ago—they’re trying to start their business in Charlotte, North Carolina. They couldn’t pay the taxes here.”
That’s from Nicole Gelinas’ April 2008 City Journal article, written when New York’s Gov. David Paterson — remember him? — replaced disgraced fellow Democrat, Client #9, Eliot Spitzer in Albany.
But hey, isn’t this all good news for New York State from the Gray Lady’s perspective? A smaller population and shrinking economy — nihilistic environmentalists (aka the core Times subscriber base) should love it. If current trends continue long enough, perhaps a depopulated Manhattan could be sold back to the Indians — which the New York Times would presumably also be in favor of.
Related: Meanwhile, in the other flailing big blue “parentheses” state on the left coast, “If you’re a Californian and want to start a small business, there are a number of different routes you could take…”