Census data released Monday found New York state had the steepest annual population decline in the country between from July 2020 to July 2021, losing more than 1.5% of its people during that 12-month period.

The news raised alarm bells among business organizations who have been concerned with the stagnant population growth in parts of New York over the last several decades.

The state's population decreased by 319,020 people over a 12-month period coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. New York in the last year also recorded a net loss of 352,185 of its population due to domestic migration, the Census reported.

Underscoring how much of a drop the population loss was for New York, the state's nation-leading decline was greater than the combined decreases in population seen in Illinois, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio.

Texas saw the largest jump in its population, increasing by 1.1% or 310,288 people.

New York has long waved goodbye to people, especially in upstate counties, over the last several generations. Business organizations have blamed the state's high tax climate in recent years relative other parts of the country.

“Addressing the Empire State exodus must be a top priority of our leaders in 2022,” said Justin Wilcox, executive director of Upstate United. “Our outmigration crisis adds to the burden of remaining residents and threatens our ongoing recovery efforts. We need Governor Hochul to tackle this issue and get New York growing in the right direction.”

New York is set to lose a congressional seat next year in the House of Representatives as its population over the last decade did not increase as fast as the rest of the country.