The Population Of New York City Falls For Only The Second Time This Decade

The largest city in the United States is seeing its population decline for only the second time in the past ten years, according to federal estimates. International migration into New York City has slowed at the same time as more residents have departed, which has caused the city's population to decline in both 2017 and 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal

The city's population fell 0.47% compared with 2017, to 8.4 million - a number that was at odds with estimates. Census officials had estimated that New York’s population grew by about 7,000 in 2017, but revised figures show that it fell by about 39,000. New York City’s Department of City Planning officials said that the city's population expansion of the last decade - one that saw residents in the five boroughs grow by 2.7% between 2010 to 2018 - has begun its "inevitable slowdown".

“You cannot maintain that level of growth forever,” city planing’s chief demographer Joseph Salvo commented. 

Net migration, measured as the sum of all people moving in and out of the city, has also fallen. In 2011, that figure grew by about 14,300, a reversal of a decade long downward trend. That number started falling again in 2013 and fell by about 87,000 in 2018.

Disenchantment with city life wasn't exclusive just to New York City, where the results were most pronounced. Several other cities in the U.S. reported declines as well. For instance, the LA metro area fell by 0.1% and Chicago fell by 0.2%. Pittsburgh and Cleveland also showed nominal drops. LA county posted losses in 2018 due to international migration and more residents leaving. 

The number of residents in LA county fell 0.1%, to 10.1 million. The county’s population was nearly unchanged in 2017.

The new data also shows that international migration into NYC grew slower than previous estimates. Census officials predicted that NYC added an annual average of 78,000 residents from abroad during the period between 2010 to 2017. The actually number turned out to be 54,000 annually.

City planning officials have contested this number, however. They claim that a change in how the census counts international migration could be causing this category to be undercounted. They also claim the number could be too low when taking into account the new housing units built over the past few years. Staten Island was the only borough that posted small gains. Queens had the largest drop in 2018, posting 18,000 fewer people.

Outside of New York City, the state is seeing a similar exodus, likely helped along by new SALT tax changes. Only two New York counties grew by more than 1,000 people, according to Bloomberg. They were Orange County, with 2,148 residents, faster than any other, and Saratoga, by 1,061.

Between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018, domestic migration helped see New York post 1.2 million fewer citizens despite foreign immigration and births outnumbering deaths both cushioning the number.

Over the past year that data was available - from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018 - the state's population decreased by 48,510.