The Census 2010 data was released Thursday and the news is surprising. Many places in Upstate and Central New York have gained population. According to the data, immigration is up in our region. Certain pockets within suburban areas have gained residents and high-skilled workers. That’s no surprise to some local officials and others who work in economic development, but the news is a surprise to Census data predictions that were released earlier this year that suggested our region would lose between 5% and 10% of our population.
Although the numbers revealed a different picture than predicted, the actual population totals were not enough to reverse redistricting plans for our state. New York will still lose two congressional seats—from 29 to 27 representatives. Losing House seats has been the trend since 1940 for New York. Other Northeast states will undergo similar changes while Texas and Florida are scheduled to gain six seats total.
The total population from 2000 to 2010 increased in New York State by 2.1%. There are 19,378,102 people in our state. In Oswego County, the total population did drop, however, by only a small percentage. Total population is 122,109. In Onondaga County, population increased slightly. Total population is 467,026.
While I’m pleased to hear the news that New York has gained residents, this should not be a situation where policy and local leaders rest on their laurels—if there are any to be had. Rather, we should use this as a catalyst for continued economic growth. The figures were surprising. Many I know have left their home state for friendly or warmer states, or for better job prospects. Though it appears, by the numbers, that we have gained residents, our area still maintains one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and unemployment rates in Oswego are particularly high at 12%. Job creation should be our number one priority. Many in business and in the private sector have made it clear that without lower taxes their livelihoods are at risk. We must continue on the path to lowering taxes and decreasing spending going ahead into future budget years, regardless if our overall economy improves. In Onondaga County, unemployment in January was at 8.2%.
Last week, joint conference committee meetings continued. Both the Senate and the Assembly leaders Monday agreed to include the Tug Hill Commission—a planning agency that helps small and rural communities with government projects and construction. The Governor’s budget cut all funding to the commission. Instead, Legislators agreed to cut its budget by 10 percent—more in line with what is proposed for other commissions. Also, compared to the Governor’s budget, some cuts to agriculture have been restored in committee, including funding for the Apple Growers Association, as well as to the North Country Agriculture Development Program, among many others. While prospects are looking up for the commission and for agriculture, all of these developments are subject to change before the final budget is voted upon.
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