The Empire State's population is constantly evolving. To help keep track of it are researchers like Jan Vink of Cornell University’s Program of Applied Demographics (PAD).

He and his team recently released a report of population estimates that covers the period of April 1, 2020, through July 1, 2021, or just after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last year, we saw a big drop of more than three percent of the population due to COVID, people moving out, especially out of the city,” Vink said.

The team's report takes a deeper look into county populations across New York state, and the impact felt well beyond the cubicle on Cornell's campus.

“We work very closely with the Census Bureau on these population estimates,” he said. “We really make this report annually to inform stakeholders throughout the state.”

On the other side of the office is research support specialist Leslie Reynolds. The work she and Vink accomplish goes well beyond publishing the updates.

“We work on merging and comparing and evaluating a lot of the Census estimates to make them usable,” she said.

They put in the painstaking work of combing through local records from all 62 counties in the state, on top of the initial Census data available.

“The beautiful thing about this report is that it focuses on New York. So, we're really able to take these numbers and show a big picture to our stakeholders, or like, city council members,” Reynolds said. “We have some communication with them, just people who are looking for data, to give them an idea of where people are moving and kind of what to cover next."

Population trends determine public school funding, broadband access and other big-ticket logistic items.

Reynolds and Vink can offer potential solutions for some of those stakeholders, and keep track of pandemic trends.

“Having new businesses pop up, it may be a good chance to build communities out of the people who have moved out from the city, and to start businesses,” she added. “But we won't really be able to see that for a couple years after the data has been released.”

According to the International City and County Management Association, the updated numbers will impact residents in three major ways.

First off, it is going to be the average of personal income that's going to most directly affect how many dollars are in local budgets.

Secondly, there's going to be the average age distribution. That will skew what public spending looks like in education, safety and recreation. Lastly, it's going to be general population in different counties across the state that will give the best thumbprint of what local economies look like.