People Are Leaving New York. And It’s No Surprise Why

leavingnyFor hundreds of years, New York has been a destination. It has been a leader, a supplier and an innovator. But things are different now.

The Statue of Liberty, one of the nation’s symbols of welcoming, could now almost be waving goodbye. People are leaving New York State at an alarming rate, and have been for the past few years. Maybe it really hit us when this time last year, it was announced that Florida had surpassed New York as the third most populous state in the country—a record it has held for—well, a long time.

The latest United Van Lines’ Annual National Movers Study, released on Jan. 2, reports that 65 percent of the moves to and from New York were outbound—the second highest of any outbound state in the country, behind neighboring New Jersey. New York and New Jersey have consistently remained at the top 2 positions for the last four years.

Now we have to be fair. A good portion of those outbound residents every year are new retirees, relocating to states in the Southeast and Southwest. Twenty-three percent of those who moved out of the state in 2015 were retirees. And now with a good portion of the Baby Boomers past, at or reaching the retirement age, we shouldn’t expect this to change at all.

But let’s face it. Not everyone is leaving New York for the good life on the beach with cocktails. The very thing that highlights people packing their bags and leaving the Empire State is the economy. In 2015, 45 percent of those who moved out left because of the job situation. No doubt that is a big reason why many people my age (18-34) are looking elsewhere. And no doubt a lot of those young people, like myself, come from upstate New York.

While New York City is the financial capital of the world, its backyard is one of the nation’s most economically depressed regions. And it’s a lot worse than a lot of people think.

While interning in Albany in 2014, I stumbled across the economic reports of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In their findings for expected average annual growth of U.S. metro economies between 2013 and 2020, Binghamton ranked dead last in the entire nation—no. 363. Do you know what no. 362 was? Utica-Rome. Kingston ranked 356, Elmira ranked 355, Buffalo-Niagara Falls 354, Glens Falls 353, Ithaca 352, Syracuse 348, Rochester 343, Albany-Schenectady-Troy 338 and—well you get the picture. No other state has that many of its cities so bunched together—and at the bottom of the list. In fact, the highest New York metropolitan area ranked on the list is Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown—at 292. The top of the list is scattered with cities in Florida, Texas and North Carolina. These numbers are just one thing to look at of course, but they say a lot.

Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that it didn’t used to be this way. What happened? New York state was known for its industry and manufacturing—perhaps the hardest hit victim of the economic woes of the last few decades. I said earlier that New York was an innovator. And that is no overstatement. Kodak, IBM, Fisher-Price, Cool Whip, the E.C. Stearns Bicycle Agency, and many other household name giants originated in this state.

And sadly, many of them have since left—chased out by high taxes and strict regulations. And many of those that have stayed have closed. In 2015 alone, the state suffered severe blows like the announcements of the closings of the Alcoa plant on the St. Lawrence River, the James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego and General Electric in the Capital Region.

Businesses go where the profit is. And likewise, people go where the businesses are. It’s an equation that was once New York’s blessing and is now its curse.

There are other reasons of course. The state has a reputation for its high cost of living, corrupt leadership and relentless winters. But if anything is going to bring back people, it’s going to be a stable job market. New York is wounded but it isn’t dead. Not yet. It’s time for the state to be innovative once again—maybe this time not so much emphasis on what is made but how it’s made. And let’s get to it quick.

Illinois is the fourth most populous state—and it’s closing in.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

Don’t Let Terrorism Stop Tourism

11081503_800411356662822_7337884031183990859_nThe Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, and Notre Dame were of course on my list of things to see when I visited Paris as a college senior. But so was the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine—just two months after the attack that killed 12. I wanted to see it, not just because I was a journalist, but because being in those places changes you.

Now that it has been one year since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and nearly two months since the heinous attacks that killed 130 Parisians, there are a frightening amount of schools and colleges across the country that are cancelling or considering cancelling academic trips to foreign cities, particularly Paris.

Their reasoning is safety of course. I’ve read lots of statements from principals and university presidents claiming that student safety is their first priority. Paris, with its long history and rich culture, is a huge hub for students to study abroad or briefly visit throughout the year. But why Paris? And why now?

The November attacks on the city killed 130 people—the biggest single loss of life that France has seen since World War II. When it comes to terrorism, it’s at the forefront of our minds and likely won’t fade any time soon.

But Paris does not stand alone. In 2004, the train bombings in Madrid, Spain killed 191 people—more so than Paris. But school trips continue to go there. A year later, the 7/7 bombings in London killed 52 people and it’s certainly not a highlight on travel-ban lists. For that matter, New York City—one site that was part of the largest act of terrorism in history—is still flocked by international tourists yearly and Ground Zero is a popular spot to visit. Plus, why are these locations any different from the places most affected? People still visit the Paris stadium after the attacks. People in Spain still take trains. And 9/11 certainly didn’t stop us from flying.

Why does it just have to be about terrorist attacks? School trips to parts of Latin America have encountered some dangers. Lots of students visit Seoul, South Korea, a city that neighbors arguably one of the most dangerous and unpredictable nations on the planet. The world is no stranger to danger.

The school officials that decide the fate of such trips to these places are giving in to what these people who cause these tragedies want. A terrorist has two goals. One is to harm people. The other is in the very word that describes them—to create terror in those that they do not end up harming.

For some, it’s working. But these incidents don’t make any of these places less safe afterward. I was in Paris in March. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo were in January. The amount of security was pretty high. At every famous landmark were large numbers of patrolling French troops. I was even on a subway car that was stopped and searched by police, allegedly for any kind of weapon or bomb. And I didn’t feel any less safe.

But what’s really at stake here isn’t just the safety of students. Ironically, canceling trips abroad can hinder their safety. As I mentioned above, Charlie Hebdo was definitely one place I wanted to see in Paris. There is more to the city than just the bright lights and romance, as there is more to any place than just its colorful landmarks.

Safety is a direct consequence of knowledge. And if a school deprives its students of a chance to gain knowledge, there can be so safety in the future. My generation and those following it have arguably grown up in the safest period of modern history. We don’t have a clue about plagues or depressions or world wars or nuclear threats. We were born just as the Soviet Union dissolved and many of the fears our parents grew up with we do not comprehend. We may think we understand but we can’t.

When schools cancel these trips, they are not just robbing a student’s chance to see the world, but the chance to see the real world. The Charlie Hebdo offices and 9/11 memorials and Auschwitz memorials of the world are there to remember those lost, but they are also there for young people to go see. They can go see them, witness the atmosphere, feel the emotion. And that’s something you just can’t get from a textbook.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88