New Yorkers voting with their feet – By George J. Marlin

 The following appears in the January 13-19, 2012 issue of the Long Island Business News:

In the first decade of the 21st century, the Empire State suffered a loss of 1.6 million citizens to other parts of the nation. The Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center in Albany has reported that 60 percent moved to the South and 30 percent established residences in neighboring lower tax states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Other vital statistics concerning outward-bound New Yorkers:

In the past half-century, New York lost 7.3 million residents to other states. The net loss, after factoring in 4.8 million foreign immigrants, was 2.5 million.

For the past two decades, New York’s net population loss as a percentage of population was the highest of the 50 states.

Households that have bolted had average incomes about 22 percent higher than those who relocated to New York; $58,899 versus $48,432. According to the IRS, migrants from New York earned $3.3 billion more than migrants to New York in 2009.

The loss of all these people, Empire Center chief E.J. McMahon has observed, “is the ultimate barometer of New York’s attractiveness as a place to live and do business. It’s the ultimate indication that we’ve been doing things wrong.”

Nassau County, where I live, had a net loss of 3 percent of its population in the last decade. The average income of migrants in 2008-2009 was $67,311, while the average income of new residents from other states was $54,683 – an 18.7 percent drop.

There are a number of reasons why people are fleeing Nassau. First, blue-collar workers have been forced to find employment in other parts of the country due to the huge drop in manufacturing jobs on Long Island. Next, young people, after finishing school, leave the nest to find jobs and affordable housing in states with a lower cost of living. (A recent poll revealed that 36 percent of New Yorkers under 30 planned to leave.) Finally, retirees living on a fixed income are skedaddling to states like Florida, where housing is cheap and taxes are low.

In my neighborhood of New Hyde Park, scores of seniors who bought Cape Cods in the 1970s and paid off their mortgages years ago have put “for sale” signs on their front lawns. Even though the value of their home has dropped since the 2008 crash, they figure they’ll still be way ahead of the game living in Florida. The average Cape Cod house that was worth $500,000 in 2008 may be off 30 percent, but the houses they’re looking at in Florida are off more than 60 percent. Seniors who net $355,000 for their home in New Hyde Park can replicate it in the Sunshine State for $100,000 and live off the $250,000 net proceeds. On top of that, they will have an additional $6,000 a year in disposable income because their annual property taxes will drop from around $8,000 to $2,000.

As long as New York continues to have the highest combined taxes in the nation, expect the stampede of the young and old to continue and for the tax burden to become more onerous on those of us left behind.

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