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Blame It On The Rain, Snow: Cuomo Poses Theory For Upstate Population Flight

Brrr. Is snow and cold weather to blame for the flight of nearly 1 million New Yorkers from Upstate New York counties during the past decade? Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks so. Photo Credit: File photo
Remember last winter? Gov. Andrew Cuomo helps a stranded driver on a stretch of the Sprain Brook Parkway near Hawthorne. Photo Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office
Remember last winter? Gov. Andrew Cuomo helps a stranded driver on a stretch of the Sprain Brook Parkway near Hawthorne. Photo Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

Snowy winters in Upstate New York is not a new phenomenon. 

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle blames lousy cold weather -- including excessive snow and rain -- on the loss of nearly 1 million residents in northern NY counties during the past decade, according to multiple news reports.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, Cuomo said that upstate population is shrinking because many of those moving out of New York simply want to live in a better climate.

Upstate counties have collectively experienced a population drop of nearly 1 million people over the past 10 years, but the governor drew no connection between the ominous outward migration and the state's reputation for high property taxes and a high cost of living, according to this report. 

After speaking at an annual conference of the Business Council of New York State in Lake George, Cuomo argued the upstate region offers an array of career opportunities for young people entering the workforce. “There are more jobs than ever. Our taxes are lower than ever,” Cuomo told reporters.

"People will make demographic choices about where they want to live. Some of them are climate based, right? Some of them are based for personal reasons. The diminishing population of upstate New York is not new. People were leaving upstate New York because they had to in the past. Young people were leaving because parents were saying, 'There are no economic opportunities. That is no longer the case," Cuomo said. 

Cuomo added: "If somebody wants to move to Florida because they want to move to Florida. God bless them. They want to fish. They want the warm weather. God bless them."

Readers may recall this Daily Voice story from last winter when Cuomo helped a stranded motorist in snow along the Sprain Brook Parkway in Hawthorne. 

Cuomo's argument that weather is a major factor in the upstate population decline was blasted Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, his Republican challenger on Nov. 6.

"Andrew Cuomo is confusing New York's miserable business climate with the weather," said Molinaro, who has said his budget policies will lead to a 30 percent cut in property taxes.

EJ. McMahon, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany told the Niagara Gazette that the governor's claim "that it's all about the weather doesn't hold water," saying Maine has enjoyed population growth even though it's known to have frigid winters. McMahon also said census data shows New York has more net domestic migration, both upstate and downstate regions, than several other states with "equivalent or worse winter weather," citing Wisconsin and Minnesota as examples.

While New York continues to attract immigrants, a study last year found that it led the nation in net migration to other states, with 41 upstate counties losing population since 2010. Recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers show New York’s population increased slightly this year to 19.85 million -- a growth rate of less than 0.1 percent -- behind the national growth rate of .72 percent.

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