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More Than 300,000 New Yorkers Have Fled City Since Pandemic Began

A man walks into heavy wind and rain during Tropical Storm Isaias along the waterfront of the Hudson River in Weehawken, N.J., across from the New York City skyline, August 4, 2020. (Mike Segar)

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have fled New York City since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring, new data from the U.S. Post Office shows.

A total of 295,103 city residents requested a change of address between March 1 and October 31, according to U.S. Postal Service data obtained by the New York Post under a Freedom of Information Act request.

However, the actual number of New Yorkers who escaped the city this year is much higher than that since a single address change could represent an entire household, and the data from the Post Office does not include the many New Yorkers who have fled without officially changing their address.

Last year, New Yorkers made only 101,342 address change requests between March and July, compared to this year’s eye-popping 244,895 requests during the same period.

Thousands of New Yorkers who left ended up close by in Long Island, Westchester, or New Jersey, although thousands more opted to move farther away to popular destinations such as Los Angeles and Florida.

New York City was hit hard by the pandemic early on in the spring, when it became the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

Besides worries about the coronavirus, however, many residents left when crime and chaos began to grip the city this year, particularly over the summer.

After riots broke out following the police custody death of George Floyd in May, New York City’s violent crime rate shot up. Meanwhile, the City Council agreed in July to cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget.

By October, murders in the five boroughs had surpassed the total number of murders in 2019, with the city logging 344 homicides through September. Meanwhile, shootings are up 94 percent through November 8 compared to last year. By the end of August the city had already surpassed 1,000 shootings for the first time since 2015.

Another concern for those who moved was their economic situation as many businesses shuttered due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions implemented in the spring.

A survey conducted by the Manhattan Institute in September found that nearly half of high-income New York City residents, those making $100,000 or more per-year, had considered moving away from the city in the previous four months. Of those respondents, 69 percent cited the cost of living in the city as the primary reason for their desire to leave.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new lockdown and social distancing restrictions for New York as coronavirus numbers in the state continue to trend upward again. All bars and restaurants with state liquor licenses as well as gyms must close at 10p.m., and indoor gatherings at private residences across the state must be capped at ten people.

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