Economy Politics

New York State’s Population Archipelago

With Cornell University’s new New York State demographic factbook just recently released, I’m sure that we’ll find lots and lots of discussion on our changing population. Some new, some merely confirming long-held beliefs. But in my first pass at this document, the thing that has struck me the most is Figure 1.2 and its companion Figure 2.5, showing the population density and change of our counties:

Upstate New York in Profile.

It seems that, in addition to a more general egress of population to other states, there also appears to be a very specific egress of people from rural and semi-rural areas of New York. Some of those leaving rural counties are doubtless headed for another state, but at least two counties bordering major metros appear to have gained population.

The result is a sort of population archipelago, with major cities taking in more and more of the residents of the state, while rural areas become seas in between. That strikes me as important for a number of reasons, but one big one is that perhaps a deeper discussion of what charms of rural life are waning might lead to a better understanding of the overall “brain-drain” and how we might best mitigate against it.

Not that I have any ready answers, of course. But I wonder if someone more influential than me is seeing the same thing I am?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.