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Upstate NY losing population, but New York City still growing

A think tank out of Albany has analyzed census data that show the number of New Yorkers has increased by 2.2 percent over the last five years, a jump of almost 418,000 people. But population growth in the New York City metro area makes up for the regional trend in upstate New York, where statistics show the area losing thousands of residents between 2010 and 2015.

Forty-one of 50 upstate counties lost population between 2010 and 201,5 according to a report by the non-profit Empire Center. And when comparing census figures, it found much of that loss happened from 2014 to 2015.  

The story of population loss in upstate New York changes from county to county. For example, more than 5,600 people in that time period left Jefferson County, home to Fort Drum.  But the county also had the largest natural increase in population, giving it the 14th highest growth rate in the state. And counties like Schoharie and Delaware, devastated by Hurricane Irene, saw the largest percentage of population losses in the state.  

And the report was also able to identify where new residents came from. For example in Onondaga County, almost 3 percent of the population left. But foreign immigration accounted for an almost 2 percent increase in population, so the net loss for the county was only about 1 percent.  

Tompkins County, home to Cornell University, was the only central New York county to see a net migration gain with an increase of just over 3 percent. And the only upstate counties that had a positive domestic migration rate, which means they attracted more people from out of their area than they lost, were Ontario, Saratoga and Hamilton Counties.  

Empire Center officials say overall, the biggest difference between upstate and downstate, is that while people are leaving every part of the state, foreign immigration and higher childbirth rates downstate, offset the losses there.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.