The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book “Dumb and Dumber: How Cuomo and De Blasio Ruined New York.”
Escape From New York may finally be due for a sequel.
The number of citizens leaving New York is at its highest rate since NYC’s pre-Giuliani crime wave. From 2010 to 2017, New York lost 1,022,071 residents, a negative 5.27% change in internal migration. Total population grew only 0.4% from 2010-2019, a time when the national population grew 16%.
NYC’s population is beginning to drop for the first time in a decade. From 2017-2018 it fell 0.47%, which may appear minor, but was the largest drop in any metro area during that period. While the population was projected to grow by 7,000, it actually declined by 38,000. The exodus accelerated from 2018-2019, with the city losing over 53,000 people.
During the early months of the pandemic nearly half a million people left the city, though we won’t know for some time how many left for good for some time. Even immigrants are avoiding the city – international immigration fell nearly in half since its peak in 2016 (far out of proportion with the decline in legal immigration under President Trump). By 2019 NYC’s population was only 2% larger than it was in 2010, again, a time period where the population grew 16% nationally.
Florida is the #1 destination for those leaving New York, a state that couldn’t possibly contrast with more in terms of government’s size and scope. Taxes in Florida are drastically lower than in New York, as is the cost of living. This is vindication that Florida’s system of government is preferable to New York’s, but also could lead to political consequences if New Yorkers are bringing their politics with them.
A comparison between the administration of both states leaves no doubt why one would leave one for the other.
As the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards writes:
New York and Florida have similar populations of 20 million and 21 million, respectively. But governments in New York spent twice as much as governments in Florida, $348 billion compared to $177 billion [in 2017].
The two are similar only in spending on transportation, police, fire, parks, sewers, and solid waste. In other words, the kind of government spending no one has a problem with. Edwards continues, noting:
New York spent $69 billion on K-12 schools in 2017 compared to Florida’s $28 billion. Yet the states have about the same number of kids enrolled—2.7 million in New York and 2.8 million in Florida.
Despite that, the two rank similarly on a handful of rankings of educating. Florida ranks 27th on U.S. News & World Report’s education rankings to New York’s 25th.
Florida has an average SAT score of 999 to New York’s 1064, but this discrepancy in New York’s favor is due to sampling bias. Florida has nearly all students take the test, while only 79% of New York students take it. When the bottom fifth in terms of academic performance don’t take a test the results are obviously going to present a rosier picture than exists in reality.
While graduation rates are similar between the two states (86% in New York vs. 88% in Florida), only nine schools in the entire state of New York have a 100% graduation rate (of 1,217 ranked schools), while Florida has 41 (of 598 ranked schools).
On welfare, Edwards notes:
New York spent $71 billion on public welfare compared to Florida’s $28 billion. Liberals say that governments provide needed resources to people truly in need. Conservatives say that generous handouts induce high demand whether people need it or not. Given that New York’s welfare costs are 2.5 times higher than Florida’s, the latter effect probably dominates.
New York’s welfare benefits are on par with that of a European social democracy. According to Michael Tanner, “In New York, a mother with two children under the age of five who participates in six major welfare programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, housing assistance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and free commodities would receive a total benefits package with a value of more than $27,500 per year.”
A mother with two young children would be entitled to $17,324 in France, $23,257 in Germany, and $22,211 in Sweden. This comparison doesn’t include Medicaid (which would be worth $10,560 to the U.S. household) because Europe’s public health care systems aren’t targeted exclusively to the poor (or elderly).
Tanner also notes that New York does a poor job enforcing restrictions on state welfare. “A recent government report found that New York had almost 11,000 families with income over the statutory limit still living in public housing, by far the most in the nation; one family earning almost $500,000 continued to receive assistance.”
And as a result of all that inefficient spending, New York spends $10 billion more annually on interest costs alone than Florida.
New York has a state government twice the size of Florida’s – and doesn’t get twice as much in return for it. In fact, they don’t even get as much in return as Florida does spending half as much.
And did I mention the weather?