Wealthiest nabes saw resident skip town when COVID-19 hit


Residents of New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods were almost five times more likely to flee the five boroughs during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic than those living anywhere else in the city, a new analysis from Comptroller Scott Stringer found.

The review of change-of-address information provided by the United States Postal Service revealed the bulk of Big Apple exits came from those who live in ZIP codes where the median income exceeds $110,000 annually, like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Battery Park City, Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, Chelsea and the Upper East and Upper West sides.

Overall, Stringer’s office estimates that 131,000 New Yorkers moved outside the city limits between March 2020 and June 2021 — triple the usual rate, as the city endured the catastrophic initial COVID-19 outbreak and the virus’ winter-time comeback.

The exodus finally began to reverse itself this summer as the city’s vaccination campaign finally took hold, public schools fully returned to in-person learning and Broadway and other cultural attractions revved back to life.

Stringer’s analysis revealed that between June and September of this year there were just 39,961 move-outs, which is roughly in line with the 40,494 reported over the same period pre-pandemic in 2019.

The comptroller’s report warned that the USPS address change tallies are not a comprehensive tally of population flows because immigrants and recent college graduates typically don’t complete them — nor does it keep tabs on births.

About 131,000 New Yorkers left the city between March 2020 and June 2021, according to the comptroller's office.
About 131,000 New Yorkers left the city between March 2020 and June 2021, according to the comptroller’s office.
Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

The recently completed U.S. Census showed that New York’s population hit 8.8 million in 2020, up from the 8.2 million counted in 2010.

“While recent post office data has been encouraging,” the 17-page report found, “many city neighborhoods have significant population loss that will not be replaced quickly.”

“The pandemic has also changed employers’ views on telework, prompting some companies to adopt hybrid work structures and others to allow employees to work from
anywhere long term,” it warned. “This shift to more remote work may have a long-term impact on the city’s population that is not yet knowable.”

Manhattanites led the 2020 march from the city with more than 20,000 borough residents filing change-of-address paperwork each month between March and June that year.

That’s 10 times the rate reported in January or February 2020 when fewer than 2,000 notified the USPS of a move.

Comptroller Scott Stringer's office warned that many neighborhoods will not be able to quickly replace the lost population.
Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office warned that many neighborhoods will not be able to quickly replace the lost population from the pandemic.
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

California, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts — all of which have dense cities that were either hard hit by the coronavirus or were forced to lock down to slow its spread — saw outflows increase, Stringer’s office revealed.

As folks exited major cities in the northeast and along the West Coast — they headed to places where space is more plentiful.

Florida saw the biggest gain in total number of move-ins reported, jumping from 83,000 in 2019 to nearly 177,000 in 2020.

But the biggest jumps in move-ins on a per-capita basis were clocked in rural New England states, Vermont and Maine, according to the data.

Suburban New York also benefited massively. Connecticut reported one of the biggest per-capita jumps in move-ins of any state, per the change of address data.

Westchester reported receiving 9 percent more new address registrations than usual between March 2020 and August 2020.

And the number of temporary and permanent move-ins filed with the USPS on Long Island over that five month period more than doubled.

More than half of those moves — 59 percent — were temporary relocations to Suffolk County, the home of the Hamptons.

Suffolk’s East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor were among the biggest gainers by zip code in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state region.

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