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New York Sees a Surge in Millionaires, as Lower-Income Residents Leave the State

There’s been a lot of handwringing about wealthy New Yorkers leaving the state over the past few years. But no more, it seems.

Millionaires are returning to New York in droves, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. That’s according to a new study from the Fiscal Policy Institute, which found that New York experienced a net gain of 15,100 millionaire households from 2020 to 2022 (including a loss of 2,400 such households). The rise was attributed to families coming back to the state, along with strong economics that put more money into high earners’ pockets.

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While rich New Yorkers fled during the early days of the pandemic—given their increased ability to move and work remotely—that trend is reversing. In 2022, the most recent year with available data, the wealthiest residents left New York State at lower rates than all other income groups, similar to how things were pre-pandemic, the Times noted.

The influx of high-net-worth individuals is a boon for New York, but it’s occurring at the same time many lower-income residents are leaving. Last year, more than 65,000 people making $32,000 to $65,000 left the state, equivalent to 2 percent of that group. That was more than any other income bracket, and three times the rate of the wealthiest 1 percent who left. Meanwhile, about 58,000 people who earned $104,000 to $172,000 left in 2022.

“The main priority for policymakers should be retaining the middle- and working-class populations of New York, by making it affordable and livable,” Nathan Gusdorf, the director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, told The New York Times.

Gusdorf thinks that raising taxes on millionaire New Yorkers would help relieve some of the burdens on lower-income residents. His group found that after tax increases in 2017 and 2021, there was no meaningful jump in the number of wealthy people who left the state. And during the pandemic, more than three-quarters of rich residents moved to other high-tax states, such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and California.

Plus, Andrew Beveridge, the president of a demographic firm that reviewed the data, told the Times that many of the the people leaving are those who help prop up white-collar industries and essential services in New York. “If you want a subway system, an office sector, a restaurant industry, you need these people,” he said.

But those people are increasingly answering the siren call of cheaper cost of living elsewhere.

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