ALBANY – New York continues to lead the nation in population decline.
New York’s population dropped 1.6% from July 2020 to July 2021, a decrease of 319,000, according to preliminary data released Tuesday.
That is at least the second year in a row in which New York led the country in population decline as people leaving for other states hit 352,185 over the past year. The decrease was offset slightly by new births and immigration.
The U.S. Census Bureau said the national population growth of a mere 392,665, or 0.1%, was the lowest rate since the nation’s founding.
It attributed the slow down to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York is the fourth largest state in the nation, behind California, Texas and Florida. It also had the fourth most COVID deaths at about 58,650 since the the state was the virus’ first epicenter in March 2020.
The population troubles for New York have had a wide impact. For one, it is losing one congressional seat in upstate next year. It has also fueled a drop in college enrollment at SUNY and has contributed to a worker shortage being felt in the state and the nation.
Most of New York’s population decline has been upstate.
“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer at the Census Bureau, said in a statement.
“Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in an historically slow pace of growth.”
Florida surpassed New York in 2014 as the third-largest state in the nation, and the gap continues to widen.
New York’s population fell under 20 million to 19.8 million this year, while Florida grew by about 1%, or by more than 211,000 new residents as it led the nation in domestic migration, the records showed.
Overall, the South was the most populous of the four regions in the nation, encompassing 38% of the total national population. It was also the only region that had a positive net domestic migration between 2020 and 2021.
The Northeast, meanwhile, is the least populous of the four regions and had a drop of 365,795 residents over the past year.
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Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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