Melissa Grothues and John Steele bailed from Buffalo last year.
Dissatisfied with their bank jobs, the 25-year-old college graduates sold the house in suburban Amherst, posted ads for possessions on Craigslist and drove cross country to San Diego for a fresh start.
“We were ready for a bigger city and to move on. There just weren’t many opportunities in Buffalo, job-wise,” Grothues said. “It just seemed like day-to-day there, every single person that I worked with would be miserable.”
The young couple is hardly alone in exiting upstate New York. More people are leaving the region than moving into it, contributing to a largely stagnant population. The trend has helped lead to New York losing four congressional seats in the last two Census counts and is about to cost the state some prestige. At some point early this year, Florida is expected to surpass New York as the third most populous state, according to projections by The Associated Press.
New York is home to about 19.65 million people, but the state’s slow growth is largely fueled by New York City, which has long attracted a large share of international immigrants and young adults, including many from upstate.
The story is different north of the Westchester-Rockland county line. The population of the 53 counties of upstate New York was essentially flat, decreasing by 0.1 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the latest county-level Census estimates available.
In The Daily Star’s coverage area, all counties showed a population decrease. In Chenango, the decline from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012 was 1.1 percent, in Delaware the decline was 1.5 percent, in Otsego it was 0.9 percent and Schoharie saw a drop of 2-percent.
Though there have been pockets of growth in the Hudson Valley and some other areas, many upstate areas grapple with a slow-but-steady loss of people.