It has been more than a year since the City That Never Sleeps turned off the lights on Times Square and closed the curtains on Broadway. The coronavirus pandemic and two Democrat politicians – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio – have decimated one of the world’s largest and most prosperous cities. Corporate titans, the wealthiest moguls, and middle-class households took the Brooklyn Bridge out of town, giving the Big Apple the prize for the most significant exodus in the nation. But now that the COVID-19 public health crisis is beginning to subside, will people want to be a part of it all over again? Perhaps the fresh air and more money in the wallet will be enough of an incentive for companies and families to stay away from Gotham. What do the data say?
The Population Drain
Was the population drain in 2020 real? And, if so, is it extending into 2021? Yes, and maybe. The New York Post recently reported that city residents filed more than 295,000 change-of-address requests from March 1 to October 31, which does not include the number of people who left without informing the authorities. Other data found that many New Yorkers resettled in outer boroughs or neighboring suburban counties.
In 2019, New York City had a population of approximately 8.41 million. This figure declined to 8.2 million by the end of last year.
Over the last 12 months, Liberty Nation has reported on the depressing state of one of the greatest cities on the planet. Goldman Sachs and billionaires Carl Icahn and Paul Singer waved goodbye to the Statue of Liberty, while small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and professionals gave up the iconic pizza and baked pretzel. Commercial real estate in Manhattan has fallen off a cliff, with one-fifth of office space available for lease and prices sliding as much as 25%.
Could more be on their way out? A recent Manhattan Institute study of six-figure earners revealed that 38% thought the city was heading in the wrong direction, and only 38% rated the quality of life as good or excellent. Considering what is going on in the Empire State, more migration could be on the cards.
Taxes, Crime, and Rats
Liberty Nation’s James Fite reported on Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to “tax his way out of trouble.” This proposal of $7 billion in new taxes includes higher confiscatory mechanisms for people earning more than $1 million. Business groups, from small business owners to major employers, are warning the government to refrain from punishing companies and the rich with new penalties because it “will jeopardize New York’s recovery from the economic crisis inflicted by COVID-19.” Or, as mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said, New Yorkers will “vote with their feet and head to Florida.” And why not? A 0% income tax rate, beautiful weather, and a pro-business environment.
Despite Mayor de Blasio suggesting residents “don’t live in fear,” the data tell a different story. Overall, crime was up 2.4% year-over-year in March, but it was the 2020 numbers that were frightening. In December, there were 1,480 shootings, allowing the city to finish 2020 with a 14-year high in shootings. Murders also climbed 40% last year. An NYPD sergeant summarized the situation in an interview with The City:
“I see a lot of suffering. There’s mold and cockroaches everywhere in the NYCHA facility in my area in Lower Manhattan. The buildings are cold. The garbage. It’s everywhere. The elevators smell like urine. Shootings are through the roof.”
When people reside in an ultra-dense city, it is widely expected that rats would be an issue. But the pandemic exacerbated the problem because these rodents are famished after restaurants shuttered, causing them to harass outdoor diners. Rats are not the only pest infestation. Across the city, apartment complexes are reporting massive cockroach invasions.
Higher taxes, rising crime, incompetent leadership, cockroaches and rats, diminishing opportunities. Even the Democratic mayoral candidates have questioned progressive dogma, noting that raising taxes on the wealthy is unnecessary when the city and state have received billions of dollars in stimulus and relief. Whether this is lip service or not remains to be seen, but it is clear that the pandemic has permanently changed conditions in what used to be one of the most desirable jurisdictions to work and live. Perhaps it is time to start spreading the news because people are leaving today. They do not want to be a part of it, New York, New York.
Read more from Andrew Moran.