New York is growing old faster than the rest of the nation but is becoming a bit better educated, according to a study released Thursday. Meanwhile, the young have continued to flock to New York City — for a while.
The Empire Center for Public Policy of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute think tank crunched census data from 1990 to 2010 to inform public policy decisions. What it reveals are both deeper problems for New York's future and work force, as well as some opportunities.
"The relative youthfulness of a region's population is in many ways an important precursor of future economic growth. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of New York City, New York State got older faster than the rest of the country between 1990 and 2010," said the report's authors, E.J. McMahon and Bob Scardamalia.
As upstate and the suburbs lost young people, New York City attracted them. But many young urbanites left the city when they reached middle age.
The study concludes New York is losing educated young adults in search of better jobs, rather than retirees fleeing for warmer states.
The research, however, also shows a surprising increase of 70,000 young adults upstate, which is attributed to higher college enrollments. That was a nearly 17 percent jump for the age group 20 to 24, significantly higher than in New York City or the nationally.
"Upstate's main hope for reversing its long-term decline is to create enough jobs to hold onto more of its recent bumper crop of college graduates," the researched concluded. "Unfortunately, the early indicators aren't good.
"Higher education enrollment is expected to drop by the end of the decade," they projected. "And while the economy has begun to recover from the recession, the 1.3 percent average annual rate in private sector job growth upstate over the past two years has been less than half the rate of growth during the 1990s, which wasn't enough to prevent an exodus of young adults during that decade."
They said public policy needs to attract new, vibrant jobs to keep its educated young adults in the state. After decades of ineffective efforts, New York is now pinning its hopes on high tech research and development to a bump in yogurt production, among other areas. So far, unemployment continues at a high level in New York in a slow economic recovery that's weaker than the national recovery.
"Unless the upstate region can somehow attract more young workers and their families, its population of children and young adults will continue to spiral downward," the report found. "And its future outlook will grow even dimmer."
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Copyright Associated Press