COOPERSTOWN — Among New York counties experiencing a loss in population, Schoharie ranked highest, and Delaware was just behind it, according to an analysis of new U.S. Census data by a Cornell University researcher.
The new statistics, according to Cornell researcher Jan Vink, point to some worrisome trends, including the fact that 14,451 more people moved out of state in a two-year period than moved in.
The fresh census data came as the federal agency updated its last full national headcount, taken in 2010, by estimating the current populations in communities across the country as of July 2012.
For Otsego, Schoharie, Delaware and Chenango counties, the census numbers painted a picture of a region struggling with populations that have been in decline.
Statewide, Vink said some of the biggest population declines were in central New York and the Southern Tier.
Schoharie landed the distinction of being the state’s top population loser — on a percentage basis — by seeing its number of residents decline by 2 percent during the two-year window. In that same period, Delaware County lost 1.5 percent of its population, the second-highest decline of New York’s 62 counties.
The Census Bureau said Chenango County had a population loss of 1.1 percent in the 27-monoth period, while 0.9 percent of Otsego County’s population moved to other places.
Many experts interviewed by The Daily Star said that to attract people to move into the region, there must be a significant expansion of employment opportunities.
“We’re trying to provide a much more business-friendly environment here, and that is not something that can be done in 18 months,” said Sarah Blood, Schoharie County’s economic development specialist. “It takes an awful lot of working with state and federal officials who understand the needs of rural communities.”
Having an aging infrastructure, she noted, is a turnoff to companies that might consider locating in a particular region.