Wherever you live, if you live in America, every decade you suffer through the onslaught of the information gathering of the Census. It’s slightly less bad than the cycle of locusts, but presumably as messy for those who have to recycle the mounds of paper wasted during the collection of data.
What happens? The government learns who lives where, and how it changed from a decade prior. It’s a marvelous snapshot of our nation, and becomes useful, even more so on a longer time horizon. For instance, I learned about five or six years ago that at some point between 1920 and 1930, my last name had changed from Horwitz to Harris, as my ancestors moved from Brooklyn to New Orleans. Hat tip to my brother, who discovered this important tidbit, and bravo for his attention to detail- a skill which I often find myself lacking!
Now that the caucus is done, it impacts the allocation of governmental resources, and importantly the redistribution of the 435 seats in the House. New York continues to lose seats to states such as Florida, Texas, North Carolina, as businesses follow better weather and lower tax rates.
But what makes the caucus interesting for our purposes today? It is that the information now coming out is quite the corrective to what seems to be getting attention in the press. What do we find? It’s that New York City’s population grew during the past ten years! Take a look here. What gives?
There are some pretty strong contradictions between articles coming out over the past year or so, and the data in the final caucus reporting. Surely, if there’s been any error, it’s that the population in New York is even larger than the numbers we’re seeing.
Let’s cover these contradictions. They seem to point to what’s taken on the status of myth at this point. I would aim to “correct the record!”
Are People Really Fleeing?
In the midst of COVID, one breathless article after another shouted the news. Everyone is fleeing New York. It doesn’t seem to be the case, even if articles continue to push that narrative (see here). And if hundreds of thousands of young professionals left (by the way, they’re back now…), how is it that there is a net gain? Maybe people left, and returned in 2021. That wouldn’t have shown up in the census.
Who Is Moving In? Who is Leaving?
We get lots of returned mail from our print mail marketing projects. Surely, there are people who have moved away. When we’re targeting condo owners in some cases, it is possible that those owners stepped away for a few months and forgot to have their mail forwarded. But that would make less sense, as if condo owners in New York would stop caring about bills and whatnot that came to their homes here- if they left. More likely, they used the condos as investment for many years and never received mail at that address. So those “bounces” are actually just bad addresses.
But it got us thinking. If there’s a net INCREASE in the population here, the “fleeing” to the suburbs could certainly be the buying of second homes, not a mass exodus. Or could it be that there are that many new people that moved here in the middle of COVID? That seems far less likely.
Who’s moving in? Who fled? Are they the same people? There’s been some ink about who we want back, and who we don’t!
Is Everyone Going To Florida?
What’s actually happening? We get the reporting from Florida, that there really was a mad dash to buy there, and many homes bought sight unseen. The strongest quarter in Miami’s history! So there is truth behind this crush of interest there. But are these buyers from elsewhere in the world? How many New Yorkers have to flee for there to be a super hot market in Miami? Is it possible that there are also just investors trying to again time that volatile market? Has AirBNB created a bubble that could pop in a year? Many more questions than answers.
My Eyes See One Thing, Then Read Another.
I admit, I’m a bit frustrated with the media articles I’m reading. They don’t line up with what I’m seeing on the streets of New York: Packed restaurants, busy open houses, nearly record transaction volume, the highest in two decades. Apart from Midtown West And Midtown East being slower until offices really reopen, the city is alive. The sooner what I’m reading reflects this, the better! -Scott