The Sunday New York Times had an editorial about the 'unsettling' of upstate New York (registration required):
During the last decade the population of upstate New York grew more slowly than that of any state except North Dakota and West Virginia: 1.1 percent. What that number hides is something even more unsettling, a growing absence of young adults who have found no compelling reason to remain upstate....
Like so many patterns of population movement, what looks like a matter of personal choice is at least partly a response to basic economic incentives — or the lack of them. Young people living upstate seem to have many more choices available to them than their grandparents did. But nearly all those choices involve some other place. What is missing is the one fundamental possibility: to stay home and build a good life where you were raised.
I agree with them about the value of staying where you were raised, though I'm content forty miles from Corning. They're correct that economics is a key part of why people go elsewhere. If you can't get a job, or can get a better job somewhere is, that makes it more tempting to go elsewhere. And yet...
We live in a key exception to prognostications about upstate's doom. Dryden, and Tompkins County generally, is growing. There's lots of new construction, and if housing prices are any sign, there should probably be even more new construction. The Times noted this county as an exception to the departure of 18-34 year-olds last week.
I think the 'why' of what's going on here is more than the economy. We have universities and colleges, sure, but so do lots and lots of places in upstate New York. We definitely enjoy a more stable economy than surrounding areas, without Corning's dependence on Corning, Inc. or Binghamton's recent defense contracting boom, but I can't say the economy overall is growing drastically here. It's hard to give a simple reason that Tompkins County is a very attractive place to a lot of people, making perhaps too many of the "Top 10 Places to Do X..." lists.
At the same time, I get a strong sense from conversations here that a lot of people do leave Tompkins County - we're just enjoying more arrivals than departures. I'm not sure there's a good way to figure out what the patterns are.
So what are we doing right? And wrong?Posted by simon at June 20, 2006 7:39 PM in New York State , demographics