Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How Can We Stem the Flight of Young Adults From Upstate New York?

The title of a recent article in the NY Times was The Flight of Young Adults in Upstate NY and it really struck a chord with me as someone that left the area as young adult only to return later in life. Clearly the population of upstate NY has been in a long steady decline for sometime, but I think the general consensus was that we were losing seniors to the south, but this data seems to reflect that migration patterns are even more pronounced among young adults.

This trend has HUGE financial implications for our state as we get older but our population of working adults shrinks yielding a smaller tax base.

The one caveat is that this article talks in broad terms about UPSTATE NY and clearly Jefferson County is bucking this trend to a small degree with increases in troop #'s stationed at Ft. Drum, but for the most part Ft. Drum is just a drop in the overall Upstate bucket.

My Question of the Day is this: What can reverse this trend? What can we change about Upstate NY to make it an attractive place for someone to bring their families?

I know the answer is simple - attract new industry, improve the schools, etc, etc, but people have been talking about that for 40 yrs.

I have some ideas, but I'd love to hear from you first - If you're the governor of NY what do you do today to stop the flight of young adults from Upstate NY?

I've pasted the majority of the NY Times article below b/c it is difficult to see old articles on their site.


Upstate New York is staggering from an accelerating exodus of young adults, new census results show. The migration is turning many communities grayer, threatening the long-term viability of ailing cities and raising concerns about the state's future tax base.

From 1990 to 2004, the number of 25-to-34-year-old residents in the 52 counties north of Rockland and Putnam declined by more than 25 percent. In 13 counties that include cities like Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton, the population of young adults fell by more than 30 percent. In Tioga County, part of Appalachia in New York's Southern Tier, 42 percent fewer young adults were counted in 2004 than in 1990.

Over all, the upstate population grew by 1.1 percent in the 1990's — slower than the rate for any state except West Virginia and North Dakota.

Population growth upstate might have lagged even more but for the influx of 21,000 prison inmates, who accounted for 30 percent of new residents. During the first half of the current decade, the pace of depopulation actually increased in many places.

David Shaffer, president of the Public Policy Institute, which is affiliated with the Business Council of New York State, described the hemorrhaging of young adults as "the worst kind of loss."

"You don't just magically make it up with new births," he said. "These are the people who are starting careers, starting families, buying homes."

In almost every place upstate, emigration rates were highest among college graduates, producing a brain drain, according to separate analyses of census results for The New York Times by two demographers, William Frey of the Brookings Institution and Andrew A. Beveridge of Queens College of the City University of New York. Among the nation's large metropolitan areas, Professor Frey said, Buffalo and Rochester had the highest rates of what he called "bright flight."

While the chronic economic woes upstate have been of growing concern for a decade or more, the accelerating departure of young people is considered particularly alarming.

As more young people depart, the population is aging. In Broome County, which includes Binghamton in the Southern Tier, the median age rose to 38.2 in 2004 from 33.3 in 1990.
"The number of upstate residents 45 or older increased by 15.3 percent, even as the number of young people, on whom they rely to hold jobs and pay taxes, went down sharply," Mr. Wilmers of M & T Bank said.

In Syracuse, total population losses may have been stanched since 2000 as children have returned to take care of aging parents, jobs have become available in more diverse fields and housing prices have become more affordable. "It's given us some hope that we're going to arrest the continuing decline of young people," said Mr. Davis, of the Metropolitan Development Association there.

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