The silent killer of New York’s economy


As a proud representative of the great state of New York, I am deeply concerned about the ominous threat posed by the alarming trend of outmigration. The recent revelation by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Heather Briccetti Mulligan, president and chief executive of the Business Council of New York State, in an op-ed in the Daily News, sheds light on a crisis silently eroding the foundations of our state’s economic prosperity.

The numbers are stark and undeniable. Between July 2020 and 2023, New York recorded a loss of over 533,000 residents, a staggering exodus that directly impacts the state’s tax base. The personal income tax, the lifeblood of our revenue stream, has suffered a tangible blow. In 2020, amid the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, New York lost 1 in every 100 personal income tax filers to outmigration, a rate four times higher than the pre-pandemic average.

While the outmigration rate slowed in 2021, the departure of high-income earners and married tax filers remained troublingly high. The repercussions are profound, as our state continues to lead the nation in population decline for the third consecutive year, with over 101,000 residents leaving the Empire State in the year ending July 2023.

Why should New Yorkers be deeply concerned? Because personal income tax constitutes the state’s largest share of tax revenue, contributing over $60 billion to its coffers in 2021. High-income earners, comprising a mere 1.6 percent of filers but accounting for 44.5 percent of the total liability, wield an outsized influence on our revenue stream. To make matters worse, it has been said that there will be imminent proposals in the One House budgets that will look to punish high-income earners even further.

The exodus is not confined to individuals; it has infiltrated the financial sector, a vital pillar of New York’s economic prowess. An October report from various institutions revealed that over $933 billion in assets has migrated from New York to other states in the past three years. The financial industry, representing 5 percent of our jobs and 16 percent of our gross domestic product in 2022, is witnessing an alarming erosion, jeopardizing the “multiplier effect” it has on our broader economy.

States like Texas and Florida have become attractive destinations, and siphoned off $9.8 billion in income from New York in 2021 alone. As representatives of the people, we must not turn a blind eye to the voices resonating from all corners of our state. Why wouldn’t these states become the new destinations to raise families and grow businesses? It’s quite simple: Not having a state income tax, and putting hard-working American first, are attractive ways to draw new residents.

It’s now budget time here in Albany, and as policymakers, we must confront the challenge of maintaining New York’s attractiveness as an affordable place to live and do business. The op-ed by DiNapoli and Mulligan rightly points out the urgency of reducing the burden on businesses, to ensure a ripple effect that resonates positively across our state.

The time for action is now. Our policies must reflect the resolve to address this silent killer of New York’s economy. By fortifying our state’s appeal, by respecting the hard-working citizenry before those that have migrated here illegally, we can stem the tide of outmigration, preserving our vibrant communities and securing a prosperous future for all New Yorkers.

Ari Brown represents the 20th Assembly District.