It's become a common theme for upstate New York over the last several decades: More people moving out than moving in.
"The Southern Tier is in the fastest state of decline. Northern New York, the Adirondacks, have been declining for quite a while. In the heart of New York, you see Chenango County losing a lot of people," said Empire Center for NYS Policy President EJ McMahon.
Updated census numbers released Thursday provided fresh evidence that the population in upstate New York is on the decline.
Over the last eight years, migration out of the state has fallen to 148,000 — a more than 2 percent decline. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, migration north of the New York City area accounted for more than 8,700 people leaving the state.
"Unfortunately I wasn't surprised when I saw the numbers released in today's report. This is a trend that has been going on for a very a long time and I don't think Albany is doing enough to address the systemic problems that are causing this issue," said Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Michael Kracker.
Kracker pins the problem on the state's overall business climate.
"We're seeing outmigration because people are chasing better opportunities in states that have friendlier business climates and unfortunately New York tends to add burdens and make it difficult to do business here," Kracker said.
But the report also shows population has declined in the economically booming New York City area — nearly 40,000 people. McMahon says it is due in part to a change in how the census bureau is counting documented immigration.
"That really changed the numbers downstate. So this is the first county level, metro estimates they've put out since they did that, and what has happened is there has been a significant decrease in their previous estimate of the population of New York City and its suburbs," McMahon said.
But there are some bright spots for upstate New York: Saratoga County, for instance, continues its population growth, increasing its net intake by more than 3 percent between 2010 and 2018.
"Saratoga remains popular because it's inexpensive. On a square foot basis, you get more house for your money in Saratoga. The property taxes are lower because Saratoga County does not contain urban areas that spend more and have needy populations concentrated in urban areas," McMahon said.
Other areas of growth include Ontario County, of the Finger Lakes region, which gained 255 people, per the latest census data, bucking the upstate New York population trend seen elsewhere.
New York's population count matters in the 2020 Census because fewer people in the state means fewer representatives in Congress.