(The Center Square) – Population estimates for 2020 released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau paint a grim picture for New York, as the Empire State is projected to have lost more residents from the 2019 numbers than any other state in the country.
The numbers indicate a decline of more than 126,000 residents over the past year. The second biggest decline was seen in Illinois, where the drop was more than 79,000.
In releasing the numbers, the Census Bureau warned that the data does not reflect the results of the 2020 population count, the results of which are still being tabulated. In a short news release, it indicated that the estimates are best used as a comparison for the final 2020 numbers when they’re released.
“The July 1, 2020 estimates are based on the 2010 Census and were created without incorporation or consideration of the 2020 Census results,” the Census Bureau said in a news release. “They are typically used in comparisons with the 2020 Census to make determinations about the accuracy of the estimates. Differences between the estimates and census counts are interpreted as error in the estimates and are used to inform population and housing unit estimates research and methodological improvements over the decade.”
If the estimates hold up, they would continue a trend of population decline seen in New York over the past decade. Both Republicans and Democrats in state government have lamented the state’s slippage in the national population charts, which will likely lead to fewer members of Congress and fewer electoral votes in presidential elections.
Where the two parties differ, however, is in assigning blame for the decline and in the solutions they offer.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent months has apportioned a share of the blame to federal policies during the pandemic that allowed companies to pay federal income taxes at the virtual locations of employees, rather than their physical location.
Republicans, meanwhile, blame New York’s high taxes compared to many other states. In response to a recent report about outmigration from the state, Assembly Republican leader Will Barclay blamed a “toxic” tax scheme.
“The Assembly Minority Conference has consistently advocated for reforms to the state’s prohibitive tax climate and has railed against the liberal majority’s failure to acknowledge the long-term harm it is imposing on New York,” Barclay said.
The Empire Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit foundation that advocates for free-market solutions, noted that New York is poised to post a decade-long population drop from 2010 to 2020.
“The 2020 estimated New York population represented a net decline of 41,326, or 0.21 percent, from the official decennial census count in 2010 – largely because foreign immigration into the state has fallen off sharply since 2017, in line with a national trend,” Empire Center senior fellow and founder E.J. McMahon wrote in an analysis of Tuesday’s numbers. “While components of population change were not released today, and won’t be available until next February at the earliest, previous annual census estimates have indicated that New York’s sagging population total is due mainly to an outmigration flow of 1.4 million people to other states since 2010.”
The decline could see New York drop from its current 29 representatives in the U.S. House to 27 following the 2022 elections, McMahon said.
“If New York’s estimated trend holds true in the final decennial census count for 2020, it will also translate into a loss of up to two congressional seats,” he wrote. “Only five other states – West Virginia, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut and Mississippi – have experienced estimated population decreases from 2010 to 2020.”
New York peaked at 45 seats in the House from 1933-53 and has seen its share decline in every 10-year reapportionment since then.