Escape from New York isn’t just an awesome, dystopian movie franchise anymore. It’s a very real event that’s taking place right out in the open, though most public officials in the Empire State don’t care to discuss it very often. Ever since Governor Kathy Hochul told 5.4 million registered voters to get out of her state and go to Florida, more and more people have been taking her up in her offer. A recent analysis of driver registration records shows that a record number of New Yorkers packed their bags and moved to the Sunshine State in August. Almost six thousand residents suddenly showed up with Florida driver’s licenses that month. The total for the year represents enough people to double the population in some rural Florida communities. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down. (NY Post)
The COVID-driven rush of New Yorkers into Florida has turned into a stampede — with no end in sight.
A record-breaking number of Empire State residents switched their driver’s licenses to the Sunshine State version last month, according to a Post analysis of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data.
A total of 5,838 New Yorkers made the switch in August — the highest recorded number for a single month in history, the numbers show.
In the first eight months of 2022, 41,885 New Yorkers relocated to Florida, and Governor Ron DeSantis is welcoming them with open arms. Migration in the other direction is essentially nil by comparison. If the exodus continues at its current pace, New York is on track to suffer the largest loss of residents to a single other state ever recorded in a single year.
People living across the river in New Jersey have followed a similar pattern. The Garden State recorded 3,059 people moving to Florida in August. That was also a new record for them. Likely for the same reasons, California has posted similar numbers of transfers to Florida.
New York officials had previously tried to blame the exodus on COVID, saying that people were looking for less crowded places where the disease might not spread as easily. But these records show that the opposite is true. Even with case numbers hitting lows not seen since the beginning of the pandemic and most COVID restrictions being eased or lifted entirely, the rate of departures has actually increased.
And why wouldn’t people want to leave such an unwelcoming place? You don’t need a virus running rampant to find a reason to leave New York, particularly Gotham. Between the rising gang violence and rampant homelessness, the city simply isn’t safe. People are afraid to use the subways, and for good reason. New York City is also still one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country and the tax rates are off the hook. Families with children can’t have helped noticing that the public school system in New York is an unmitigated disaster now. These are all quality of life issues and you know things have to be pretty bad for that many people to make the difficult choice to pick up and move to the opposite end of the east coast, leaving behind family, friends, and careers.
You may recall that back in April, New York City Mayor Eric Adams rented out digital billboards in Florida, urging people to move back to New York. You can see what a great investment that was, based on these figures.
It’s not hard to see where this train is headed. By the end of the decade, New York will have lost so many people that it will likely lose yet another congressional seat and have to once again go through the torturous process of redoing all of its congressional maps. Meanwhile, Florida will continue to gain power in Congress and help dictate national policy. So conditions may be horrible for all of the remaining New Yorkers, but there’s obviously a silver lining to every cloud.